JWARP  Vol.11 No.5 , May 2019
Impact of Annual Ryegrass on Nitrate-N Losses during One Growing Season of Maize in the Midwestern United States
—An On-Farm Case Study
Abstract: Winter cover crops have been shown to reduce nitrate-N (NO3-N) losses in runoff water and are recommended by the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) for reducing nutrient losses from agricultural fields. With an estimated 80 percent of the NO3-N load in Illinois coming from agriculture, the NLRS stresses the importance of farmers’ voluntary implementation of best management strategies in order to reach these goals. This study compares the difference in NO3-N losses from tile drainage water from an annual ryegrass (AR, Lolium multiflorum) winter cover-cropped treatment to a conventional tillage (CT) control (fall chisel and spring field cultivation). Throughout the maize (Zea mays L.) growing season, tile drainage water was collected and analyzed for NO3-N concentrations. Despite the AR treatment having a 29% lower mean daily NO3-N concentration, there was no significant difference in total daily NO3-N flux between AR and CT for this study period of April-July 2015. The cumulative losses of NO3-N were calculated at 11.65 and 10.56 kg ha−1 NO3-N for the CT and AR treatment, respectively, or a 9.4% reduction in the AR treatment during the period of study. When the season was divided based on growing season periods, the NO3-N flux values were less for the cover crop while the AR was actively growing, greater for the cover crop for the period following annual ryegrass termination through maximum crop canopy, and lower for the cover crop in the late stages of vegetative growth through relative maturity.
Cite this paper: Holscher, J. and Davidson, P. (2019) Impact of Annual Ryegrass on Nitrate-N Losses during One Growing Season of Maize in the Midwestern United States
—An On-Farm Case Study. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 11, 606-625. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2019.115035.

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