Jess Bearse, University of Tennessee-Martin, Martin, TN, Paula M. Gale, 256 Brehm Hall, University of Tennessee-Martin, Martin, TN and Lauren Taylor, University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, TN
The NRCS as well as many other agencies are recommending that farmers incorporate mixed species cover crops into their farming practices. The purpose of our experiment was to monitor the levels of various parameters including, pH, N, P and K, in the soil where a mixed cover crop was planted. The overall goal of the larger project is to demonstrate the benefits and limitations of using ½, 1, 1 ½, and 2 times the NRCS recommendation of mixed species cover crops. The cover crop was planted at four different rates. Management of the cover included planting, rolling, and chemical burndown. Soil samples were collected during active growth and following each of the termination steps as well as after a soybean crop was planted. pH decreased significantly as the recommended cover crop seeding rate increased. Potassium also showed distinct differences based on the cover crop planting rate. Overall, there was not much variation amongst the other nutrients based on the cover crop planting rate. In order to fully understand the benefits of mixed species cover cropping, more research should be done. However, it is our belief that mixed species cover crops can help to keep soil healthy by providing diverse cover and organic matter.