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Measurement of Cover Crop Evapotranspiration and Impacts on Water Management in Crop Production Systems

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  RRV12108,  ASABE/CSBE North Central Intersectional Meeting. (doi: 10.13031/2013.41319) @2012
Authors:   Brett R Hankerson, Christopher H Hay, Jeppe Kjaersgaard
Keywords:   Evapotranspiration, cover crop, energy balance, Bowen Ratio, water management, crop water use, Eastern South Dakota

The use of cover crops is an increasingly popular sustainable farming practice that provides many benefits to the soil and subsequent cash crops. This research examines how the water usage of a cover crop affects the water availability for the subsequent cash crop. A Bowen-ratio energy balance system (BREBS) was installed on a cooperator's field in Day County, South Dakota in order to determine the evapotranspiration (ET) of a cover crop mixture of rye, field radish and field pea compared to that of the cash crops before and after, spring wheat and field corn, respectively. This information will then be used to calculate crop coefficient values for the region. The system was installed on May 24th, 2011 and collected data for the rest of the spring wheat season and the following cover crop. The results show that the cover crop used less than half of the water that the spring wheat crop used, and the cover crop has correspondingly lower crop coefficient values. This research is ongoing and water use by the subsequent field corn crop is not yet available.

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