In 2010 and 2009, the bluegrass and fescue plots averaged about the same yield as the control plot. The rainy spring of 2008 caused yields for the control to be much better, as the no-till plots were planted late in the year.
"This experiment wasn't designed to develop management practices for the farm, it was designed to test the feasibility of using these perennial ground covers for producing corn," said Moore.
"We would conclude these systems are feasible, but we recognize that it could be a somewhat brittle system. We've only tried it in one location, with one corn hybrid for four years. We don't know how it is going to perform in the entire state with different soils and different growing conditions."
Moore stresses that one goal of the study is to get corn breeders involved in a cover crop system so hybrids can be developed to work in concert with cover crops. The cover crops themselves can also be improved for better results.
Moore says that this cropping system might be appealing for farmers in the long term.
"Farmers make tough economic choices every year when they plant and harvest their crops," said Moore. "If changes need to be made to ensure future generations have the same great farm land and life that we do, we need to offer farmers choices that are not just to our benefit, but to their benefit as well.
"Growing corn with a perennial cover crop promises to address many of the environmental concerns being expressed about corn production and will enable farmers to harvest stover for bioenergy as that market develops. It appears to be a win-win opportunity. These cover crop systems may eventually offer the farmer a profitable alternative that can ensure long term success, at least that's my hope."