Original article by Morning Ag Clips
Planting a multi-species mixture of cover crops — rather than a cover crop monoculture — between cash crops, provides increased agroecosystem services, or multifunctionality, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
That was the conclusion drawn from a two-year study of 18 cover-crop treatments, ranging in diversity from one to eight plant species. Cover crops were grown at the Penn State Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center preceding a corn crop. The researchers measured five benefits provided by cover crops — ecosystem services — in each cover crop system to assess the relationship between species.
Those services included weed suppression and nitrogen retention during the cover-crop season, cover-crop aboveground biomass, inorganic nitrogen supply during the subsequent cash-crop season and subsequent corn yield.