Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Krista Jacobsen

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy Phillips

Abstract

Reduced tillage and living mulches are alternative management strategies that can improve soil quality by minimizing disturbance and building soil organic matter. Weed suppression by these two practices alone is often insufficient to avoid crop yield losses, but their performance in an integrated system is not well understood. This project investigated the production of bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in conventional tillage and strip tillage with a living mulch of teff (Eragrostis tef Zucc.) and Korean lespedeza (Kummerowia stipulacea Maxim.). Yields of pepper and bean were generally higher under conventional tillage without living mulch. Weed biomass was not influenced by tillage, and was adequately suppressed by teff in a year when conditions for teff growth were favorable. Mowing appeared to suppress weed growth but not living mulch growth. Soil nitrate and ammonium concentration was generally higher under conventional tillage without living mulch. Delaying living mulch seeding by 15 days after crop establishment generally did not affect weed suppression or crop yield. Soil aggregate stability was not consistently affected by tillage or living mulch. Increased mowing frequency, living mulch planting delay, or distance between the crop row and the living mulch may be necessary to achieve acceptable yields with living mulches.

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