Herbicide Carryover to Cover Crops and Evaluation of Cover Crops for Annual Weed Control in Corn and Soybeans
Rector, Lucas Scott
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While cover crops are actively growing, they compete with winter annual weeds. Studies were conducted to determine the ability of early planted cover crop monocultures and mixtures and a fall applied residual herbicide to compete with winter annual weeds. Cereal rye containing cover crops provided the greatest control of winter weeds in May. Flumioxazin, as a fall applied herbicide, controlled winter weeds in December, but control did not persist until May. Once cover crops are terminated, their residue suppresses summer annual weeds. A greenhouse experiment studying the effects of cereal rye biomass on common ragweed and Palmer amaranth control and light penetration and two field experiments to determine the effects of cereal rye and wheat cover crop biomass terminated with a roller crimper or left standing on summer weed control and light penetration were conducted. For summer weed control, as cover crop biomass increased, weed control increased, light penetration decreased, soil temperature decreased, and soil moisture increased. Standing cover crop residue provided greater control of common ragweed compared to rolled residue until 8400 kg ha-1 of cover crop biomass. As cover crop biomass increased, rolled cover crop residue reduced light penetration compared to standing residue. Wheat cover crop residue increased soil moisture more compared to cereal rye residue. Cover crops must become established to produce adequate biomass to compete with weeds. Herbicide carryover has the potential to reduce cover crop establishment. A study was conducted to evaluate the potential for 30 different residual herbicides applied in the cash crop growing season to carryover to 10 different cover crops. While visible injury was observed, cover crop biomass was similar to the nontreated check in all cases, indicating that herbicide carryover to cover crops is of little concern. Herbicide carryover has few biological effects on establishment of cover crops, under the conditions and herbicides evaluated, that are effective at competing with winter annual weeds and suppressing summer annual weeds.
General Audience Abstract
Cover crops are grown after the cash crop has been harvested and terminated before another is planted. They are grown for environmental and agronomic benefits and not harvested. Cover crops improve soil health, reduce erosion, prevent nutrient loss, and control weeds. Cover crops can compete with weeds while they are actively growing. Their residue can create a mulch layer to reduce weed establishment and limit the amount of light reaching weed seed to reduce germination and establishment. As winter cover crops are growing, they compete with winter weeds for sunlight, nutrients, and water. Fall applied herbicides that remain active in the soil are also utilized to control winter weeds in between cash crop growing seasons. Experiments evaluated the ability of cover crop monocultures and cover crop mixtures compared to a fall applied herbicide to compete with winter annual weeds. Monocultures and mixtures of cereal rye, crimson clover, hairy vetch, and forage radish were utilized. Cereal rye containing treatments provided the greatest control of winter weeds in the spring. The fall applied herbicide provided adequate control of winter weeds in December, but control did not persist until the May, indicating that a fall applied herbicide will not provide control of winter weeds from cash crop harvest to the next cash crop planting. As cover crop biomass increases, summer annual weed control increases. Cover crops are usually terminated with herbicide and left standing in Virginia, but the use of a roller crimper lays down residue and creates a mulch layer. Experiments compared the effects of cereal rye and wheat cover crops at different biomass rates terminated with herbicide only (left standing) or a roller crimper and herbicide on summer weed control, light penetrating the cover crop canopy and reaching the soil surface, soil moisture, and soil temperature. As cover crop biomass increased, weed control increased, light reaching the soil surface decreased, soil temperature decreased, and soil moisture increased. Standing cover crop residue provided greater weed control until 8400 kg ha-1 of cover crop biomass was reached. After 8400 kg ha-1 rolled cover crop residue provided greater control, but control from standing and rolled were both greater than 80% compared to the no cover control. Cereal rye intercepted more light than wheat cover crop residue at less than 6000 kg ha-1 of cover crop biomass was achieved. Rolled cover crop residue intercepted more light than standing residue. Established cover crops most produce adequate biomass to effectively control weeds. Herbicides applied during the cash crop growing season to control weeds can remain active in the soil and reduce the establishment of subsequently planted cover crops. Experiments evaluated the potential for different herbicides applied during the cash crop, such as corn, cotton, or soybeans, to remain in the soil at high enough concentrations to injure cover crops commonly utilized in the Mid-Atlantic region. Cover crops utilized were wheat, barley, cereal rye, oats, annual ryegrass, forage radish, Austrian winter pea, crimson clover, hairy vetch, and rapeseed. Results suggest that little potential exists for the herbicides utilized to persist in the soil to injure the five grass cover crop species utilized. There is the potential for some herbicides to injure forage radish, crimson clover, and rapeseed, but no reduction in cover crop biomass was observed, indicating there is little concern for herbicide carryover to cover crops. Residual herbicide carryover has little effect on establishment of cover crops and does not reduce cover crop biomass, under the conditions and herbicides tested in this study. Cover crops can effectively compete with winter weeds, and as cover crop biomass increases, summer annual weed control increases.
- Masters Theses