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Cover Crop Impacts on Water Dynamics and Yields in Dryland Wheat Systems on the Colorado Plateau

Limited precipitation has long challenged agriculture on the Colorado Plateau, drought and low precipitation levels continue to limit agricultural production in the region. Despite the potential benefits offered by cover cropping, trade-offs are inevitable and cover crops can also compete with subsequent cash crops for water. The notion that cover crops in semiarid systems utilize already-scarce soil water and therefore impact yields has slowed their adoption in many semiarid regions. To address this issue, this study worked with local farmers and extension agents to develop two field trials to assess the potential of cover crops to mitigate soil degradation and examine trade-offs related to water use and crop yields.

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