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Colorado State University (2011)

Establishment and maintenance of leguminous living mulches for irrigated systems in the semi-arid West

Beahm, Andrew T.

Titre : Establishment and maintenance of leguminous living mulches for irrigated systems in the semi-arid West

Auteur : Beahm, Andrew T.

Université de soutenance : Colorado State University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2011

Résumé partiel
Management strategies for the establishment and maintenance of perennial leguminous living mulches were tested at irrigated sites in Colorado. Living mulches have been successfully integrated into corn (Zea mays) cropping systems in the upper Midwest of the United States. These studies focused on adapting the practice to irrigated environments in the semi-arid West through mulch and cash crop species selection and determination of appropriate suppression regimes. Different mulch/annual crop combinations were tested in both the establishment year and with previously established perennial legume stands. Spring herbicide regimes were tested on living mulches, and potential mulch species were screened for recovery from glyphosate [N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine] application. The goal of the first study was to determine whether birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), white clover (Trifolium repens), and a mix of white clover, red clover (Trifolium pretense), and kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum) could be co-established with corn and oats (Avena sativa) for use as living mulches. Legumes were seeded with annual crops at two irrigated sites. Mulch crops did not have any effect on annual crop yield or quality. Yields of legumes established with corn averaged 276 kg ha-1 in spring of the following year while legumes established with oats cut at the boot and soft dough stages yielded 951 and 611 kg ha-1, respectively. Among legume treatments, the clover mix yielded the highest, averaging 869 kg ha-1 across annual crops followed by birdsfoot trefoil and white clover at 542 and 427 kg ha-1, respectively. The second study tested different living mulch and annual crops for performance and compatibility. Corn and soybeans (Glycine max) were planted into established legume stands. Fertility treatments of 0, 84, 168, and 225 kg ha-1 nitrogen (N) were also applied to corn without a living mulch and used to generate N response curves to quantify N inputs of living mulches, which received only 84 kg N ha-1. Legume N contributions of living mulch treatments were 69, 46, 45, 32, and 23 kg ha-1 for alfalfa (Medicago sativa), white clover, birdsfoot trefoil, red clover, and a mix of birdsfoot trefoil/red clover, respectively, in corn silage. In corn grain, N contributions of legume treatments were 52, 43, 23, 20, and 18 kg ha-1 for white clover, alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil/red clover mix, birdsfoot trefoil, and red clover, respectively.

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