No-tillage soybean performance in cover crops for weed management in the western corn belt

Martin M. Williams, David A. Mortensen, John W. Doran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Frequency of soil moisture depletion and subsequent crop yield reduction resulting from water use by cover crops is unclear. Effects of cover crop residues and irrigation on soybean emergence, canopy volume, grain yield, and soil moisture in eastern Nebraska were determined. Cover crop treatments included five common species and a bare soil control. Precipitation treatments included rainfed conditions and weekly irrigation events of 18 mm (0.7 in) in June and July. Above-normal May rainfall in 1995 and 1996 resulted in similar percent volumetric soil water contents (%VSWC) in the surface 15.2-cm (6.0-in) soil layer. Soybean emergence was unaffected by residue dry matter levels below 3,170 kg/ha (2,830 lb/ac). Early-season soybean growth was similar across all treatments; however, cover crop biomass greater than 2,170 kg/ha (1,940 lb/ac) reduced soybean canopy volume 33 to 44% during mid-season droughts. Yields were highest when stand densities were maintained and weeds were suppressed. This research develops a greater understanding of how cover crop residues influence soybean performance, ultimately reducing reliance on postemergent herbicide use for weed control in no-tillage systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Soil Science


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