Jacob Wright’s (AGRONOMY) adventure has taken him across the country. From his home in Virginia to Iowa State, Jacob wanted to learn all he possibly could. He was determined to get experience with a variety of crops and focus on the environment. His adventure continued carrying him west, to California for an INTERNSHIP with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Napa.
Iowa State University agronomists and horticulturalists have joined forces to find the best relationship between row crops and perennial cover crops.
They were awarded a National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant this year as part of the agency’s effort to support research on agricultural systems and production of biomaterials and fuels. Ken Moore, David Laird, and Andy Lenssen, all professors of agronomy, and Shui-zhang Fei, associate professor of horticulture, make up the team.
Photo: Graduate student Allen Chen uses the light box he made to take photos of perennial cover crops in a test field west of Ames in September.
The team is studying turfgrass species to be used as perennial cover crops since they do well in cooler weather, Fei said. They planted several varieties of turf grasses in field trials west of Ames this fall to see which do not compete with corn production while still providing environmental benefits.
Issue: Cover crops are a recognized conservation practice to reduce soil erosion, and Iowa research has shown a winter cereal rye cover crop greatly reduces nitrate loss with subsurface drainage. However, little research has evaluated the impact of cover crops on total and dissolved nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loss with surface runoff.