Use of a living mulch in a continuous corn cropping system can potentially protect the soil from erosion and increase organic C inputs into the soil thereby enhancing soil quality and facilitating greater harvest corn stover for bio-energy production. The objective of this study is to evaluate soil C- and N-dynamics under a corn-living mulch system that includes a shallow rooted perennial cover crop, strip tillage, and spring burn down. This study hypothesized that a well managed shallow rooted perennial cover crop can improve soil quality by increasing soil C storage and synergistically distributing soil nutrients. Here we report impacts of the living mulch systems on season Mehlich III extractable nutrients and the inter-season timing and distribution of water extractable C and 2M KCl extractable NO3 and NH4 for 3 site-years. Two living mulch systems were used, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) and Tall fescue [Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort.], and soil samples were collected from within rows (strip till zone where corn is planted with no cover crop) and in between corn rows (under the perennial cover crop) thrice a month after N-fertilizer application. The nutrient data and their implications on corn yield will be reported to evaluate impacts of living mulches on continuous corn systems.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/andrew_lenssen/98/