Winter cover crop effects on nitrate leaching in subsurface drainage as simulated by RZWQM-DSSAT

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
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Journal Article
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2008, 51 (5), pp. 1575 - 1583
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Planting winter cover crops such as winter rye (Secale cereale L.) after corn and soybean harvest is one of the more promising practices to reduce nitrate loss to streams from tile drainage systems without negatively affecting production. Because availability of replicated tile-drained field data is limited and because use of cover crops to reduce nitrate loss has only been tested over a few years with limited environmental and management conditions, estimating the impacts of cover crops under the range of expected conditions is difficult. If properly tested against observed data, models can objectively estimate the relative effects of different weather conditions and agronomic practices (e.g., various N fertilizer application rates in conjunction with winter cover crops). In this study, an optimized winter wheat cover crop growth component was integrated into the calibrated RZWQM-DSSAT hybrid model, and then we compared the observed and simulated effects of a winter cover crop on nitrate leaching losses in subsurface drainage water for a corn-soybean rotation with N fertilizer application rates over 225 kg N ha-1 in corn years.
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