Site Summary

Farm Type: Cash crop

Crop: Corn, soybeans, winter wheat

Landscape: Rolling

Soil Type: Clay loam till

BMP treatment: Cover crop vs no cover crop

Monitoring: Surface and subsurface runoff

This side-by-side trial is aimed at evaluating the water quality differences from a small watershed with a lush, unharvested forage cover crop in contrast to an adjacent watershed where the cover crop was harvested and removed. Approximately 10cm of cover crop stubble remain as well as wheat residue.

Wheat harvest occurred in July 2020. Liquid dairy manure applied at 4,000 gallons/acre and lightly incorporated. A pea/oat cover crop mix was drilled in during August 2020 at a forage rate. Around October 20, the cover crop was cut at about the 10cm level and removed as baleage. The B5 watershed (Image 1) was left unharvested but all of the surrounding field was harvested.  

In late October 2020, ISCOs (automatic water sampling equipment) were installed at the outlets of watersheds B3 and B5 (see Image 1) to monitor differences in runoff water quality between the mini watersheds where the cover crop was harvested (B3) and where it was left (B5).