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Extending Cover Crop Benefits with Zone Till Management in Northern Organic Summer Squash Production

Zone tillage has recently risen in popularity as an approach for reducing tillage by tilling only areas directly where crops will be sown and leaving between-row regions untilled. This practice has gained traction due to its capacity to improve soil quality by incorporating cover crop residue where crops will be planted, while maintaining living ground cover between rows to prevent N mineralization where runoff and leaching potential is highest. This approach has great potential in northern climates where short spring seasons often prevent winter annual legumes from reaching maturity. The goal of our study was to investigate how zone till management affects different cover crop systems with regards to in-row and between-row cover crop N contributions and soil quality, and subsequent certified organic yellow crookneck squash yield.

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