Iowa research has demonstrated that cover crops can improve soil productivity and water quality by increasing soil organic matter and reducing nitrate nitrogen (N) leaching. Other research has investigated and is investigating the agronomic and economic viability of using cereal rye cover crops in continuous corn or corn-soybean rotations. However, no Iowa research has evaluated under natural rainfall the impact of cover crops on phosphorus (P) and N loss with surface runoff interacting with other management practices. The need for this type of research was indicated in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy documents. This effort assessed what would be needed to reduce N and P exports from point and nonpoint sources by 45 percent, which is what EPA estimates is needed to reduce the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john-sawyer/4/