Dairy farmers in the Northeast can improve water quality and boost the profitability of their operations by changing the timing and method of applying manure to their fields in the fall, along with planting rye as a cover crop between corn crops -- or by double-cropping rye and corn, according to Penn State researchers. In a two-year study at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, researchers compared the effects on nitrogen conservation of three field-management options that could be implemented by farmers, to determine whether new strategies would yield environmental and crop-production benefits. In a "three-factor factorial experiment," researchers compared injecting manure into the soil versus broadcasting it on the surface; planting rye as a winter cover crop versus allowing the rye to grow longer in the spring and harvesting it as forage; and applying manure before the cover crop is planted in September -- after the harvest of corn for silage -- versus waiting until November to apply the manure into the established rye crop.
(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com)