The use of legume cover crops in no-tillage broccoli and cabbage production

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Virginia Tech

Field experiments were conducted in 1983 and 1984 to compare conventional tillage (CT) versus no-tillage (NT) production of broccoli and cabbage. The tillage treatments were applied in combination with four rates of applied nitrogen fertilizer and three cover crops: hairy vetch (Vigia villosa Roth), Austrian winter pea (Fisum arvenu L.), and cereal rye (Secale cereale L.). Transplants of 'Premium Crop' broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica Plenck) and 'Market Prize' cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata L.) were set with a locally adapted NT vegetable planter. None of the variables studied affected the final plant stand. Yield and head size with NT were equal to or greater than CT. Soil moisture was higher under NT plots throughout the growing season. Yield and head size with the two legume covers were equal to or greater than those with the rye cover. Yield and head size tended to increase as applied N was increased, although differences were not always significant. The data, although not conclusive, indicate that the legume cover crops provided additional nitrogen for the cole crops.