Grant funds cover crop study

Karol Osborne  |  6/16/2017 7:08:24 PM

(06/16/17) WINNSBORO, La. — The LSU AgCenter will serve as the lead agency in a study of the impact of cool-season cover crops on annual forage production and soil health in hay and pastures.

The joint research effort with Mississippi State University is funded by a $400,000 research grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food Research Initiative program. It is one of 54 grants totaling more than $17.7 million for plant research to help optimize crop production, mitigate disease and increase yield.

The three-year grant will support research projects at three locations: two in Louisiana at the AgCenter Central Research Station in East Baton Rouge Parish and the Hill Farm Research Station in Claiborne Parish, and one at the Frank T. Withers Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, Mississippi.

“This project will evaluate 27 different treatment combinations at each location, using multiple cool-season cover crop species including grasses, legumes and brassicas,” said AgCenter forage specialist Wink Alison.

The goal of the project is to look at how cover crop management affects forage production throughout the year as well study the chemical, physical and biological soil parameters from the applications, Alison said.

Cover crops can organic matter to the soil and provide vegetative ground cover during the winter, he said.

Alison plans to harvest some of the cool-season cover species to measure forage yields. Others he will let accumulate, mowing in April and allowing the organic matter to remain on the surface. Then he’ll evaluate the effect on warm-season perennial grass yield monthly throughout the growing season.

Four LSU AgCenter scientists are participating in the project. In addition to Alison, they are soil microbiologist Lisa Fultz, agronomist Kun-Jun Han and forage agronomist Buddy Pitman. Mississippi State University forage agronomist Bisoonbat Macoon is working on the project in Mississippi.

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