University of Tennessee (Tennessee) $634,107

Long-term impacts of cover crops, crop rotations, and conservation-tillage systems on soil properties, nutrient cycling, soil water availability, and crop productivity

Cotton, soybeans, and corn are the major crops in Tennessee and the Mid-South region. Increasing the competitiveness of these crops in global markets and minimizing the adverse impacts of their production on the natural resources and environment remains a big challenge.

The objectives of this project are to: 1) demonstrate and quantify the long-term impacts of cover crops, crop rotations, and no-tillage systems and their interactions on soil chemical, physical, and biological properties; 2) quantify the impact of cover crops on  nutrient cycling, soil water availability, and cotton, soybean, and corn productivity; 3) demonstrate and quantify the differences in nutrient and available water holding capacity of soil systems under long-term no-tillage with cover crops compared with systems using tillage with no cover crop; and 4) disseminate the results of this project to NRCS, farmers, university extension agents, private consultants, and other interested groups and individuals in Tennessee and other mid-southern states.

The long-term goal is to encourage the adoption of conservation management practices and systems to improve soil health, environmental quality, crop productivity, and grower profitability.