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Long-term soil physical responses from integrating cover crops and no-till management to agricultural soils in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Proceedings of the 2020 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2020 Authors: Firth A., Baker B., Brooks J., Morin D., Brown A., Locke M.
Agriculture is the greatest contributor to overall consumptive water use with deleterious effects seen in river depletion and groundwater over draft. Despite negative documented effects of agricultural land use (i.e. soil erosion, compaction, nutrient runoff) on critical natural resources (i.e. water), food production must increase in order to meet the demands of a rising human population. Given the environmental and agricultural productivity concerns of intensely managed soils, there is a growing interest in conservation practices that mitigate the negative effects of crop production and enhance environmental integrity. This study assed the long-term soil physical responses from integrating cover crop (CC) and no-till (NT) management to agricultural soils in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley region of Mississippi, USA. Bulk density, aggregate stability, water holding capacity and water infiltration were measured after 5 years of CC and NT treatments. It was hypothesized that the combination of a diverse CC mixture and NT management would provide more favorable soil physical properties compared with single CC mixtures or tillage treatments. Results of this study are expected to provide valuable information to producers in the mid-south region of the cost and benefits of CC/NT usage.