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Economic and biological benefits of intercropping berseem clover with oat in corn-soybean-oat rotations

Economic and biological benefits of intercropping berseem clover with oat in corn-soybean-oat rotations

Journal of Production Agriculture 10(2): 314-319

Sustainability of Iowa agriculture way require change from predominantly a corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) rotation to more diverse cropping systems. Alternative crops are vital for providing temporal diversity. Reincorporating small grains into a three-crop rotation with corn and soybean can provide greater temporal diversity, especially if a forage legume is included as a companion crop. A field study was established in 1991 on a Kenyon (fine-loamy, mixed, mesic Typic Hapludoll) soil to evaluate the economic and biological benefits of an oat (Avena sativa L.) crop underseeded with berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L.) in a three crop- rotation. Two rotation treatments were compared: (i) corn-soybean-oat and (ii) corn-soybean-oat intercropped with berseem clover. In 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995, oat grain yield was not significantly changed when berseem clover was underseeded with the oat crop. However, in 5 yr, oat underseeded with berseem clover produced up to 70% more bio ass (harvested material without the grain) than sole-crop oat straw. The biomass (40% oat straw and 60% berseem clover forage) also bad adequate digestible material (51%) to be considered as low quality forage. Berseem clover regrowth after oat grain harvest produced an average 1.2 tons/acre of forage, which could have been harvested for hay or left in the field as green manure. During this trial, berseem clover regrowth was left as groundcover and green manure, which contributed an average of 39 lb N/acre to the succeeding corn crop. Corn grain yields following berseem clover were 10% higher over the trial period. Soybean grain yields were the same for both treatments. Intercropping berseem clover with oat returned an average of 39/acre more than sole-crop oat. This study demonstrated both economic and biological advantages for more diverse cropping practices.

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Accession: 002808303

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