Corn yields with perennial cover crop are equal to traditional farming

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Soil quality, water quality, and possibly even farm profits will all benefit by using a perennial cover crop on corn fields that allows for similar yields to traditional farming methods, according to new Iowa State University research.

Using standard agronomic practices and managing a perennial cover crop between rows of corn can keep soil, nutrients and carbon in the fields, a three-year study says. Plus, farmers will still be able to yield 200 bushels per acre, the study showed.

For the study, researchers looked at 36 potential ground cover species, different corn hybrids and various tillage practices and found that strip till planting using Kentucky bluegrass as the perennial cover crop is the combination the researchers will recommend to offer environmental benefits while maintaining yield.

Ken Moore, professor in Iowa State University’s Department of Agronomy, says that the system using Kentucky bluegrass with strip till yielded more than 200 bushels per acre, which was equal to the control plot, and might also be the easiest for farmers to accept.

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