Over 1 million acres of corn silage is grown in Wisconsin. When harvested in late summer, there is a clear opportunity for cover crops to be planted. In addition, it is likely that manure will be applied after corn silage harvest allowing cover crops to provide both soil and nutrient conservation benefits. However, growers in Wisconsin climates may have concerns about trade-offs with management such as extra field work in the spring, competition for soil water and nutrients, and other associated costs that can only be addressed through coordinated research and extension efforts across the state. The potential for yield loss is a real concern of Wisconsin farmers and there are quantified examples of corn yield reductions following a rye cover crop (e.g., 13 bu/ac decrease reported by Stute et al.,2009). The objectives of this study were to determine the performance of fall seeded cover crops in a corn silage/fall manure application production system in different regions of Wisconsin and to quantify effects (yield and optimal N rate) on subsequent corn crop yield. Two cover crops were evaluated winter rye (which required termination in the spring) and spring barley (which winterkills).
Soil Science Extension
University of Wisconsin Madison