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Pennycress as a Cash Cover-Crop: Improving the Sustainability of Sweet Corn Production Systems

The upper Midwest USA leads the nation in production, accounting for 37% of the total sweet corn hectarage in the United States. However, sweet corn has a proportionally larger potential to contribute to nitrogen (N) pollution, with three times the residual inorganic soil N of grain maize and soybean. This occurs because of the high fertilizer requirements to optimize ear or cut-kernel yield, which subsequently results in high N residue left on the field after harvest. Cover crops planted after sweet corn can help mitigate N lost from the field, but farmers are reluctant to utilize cover crops due to a lack of economic incentive. Pennycress is a winter annual that can provide both economic and environmental benefits due to it being a winter annual oilseed. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of seeding method and sweet corn N application on pennycress yield and analyze the effect of pennycress and N rate on residual inorganic soil N following sweet corn.

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