Farming for Nitrogen: Intercropping Corn and Kura Clover

UW Extension


kura clover3_optFarming for Nitrogen: Intercropping Corn and Kura Clover

by Ken Albrecht1, Tyson Ochsner2, and Bob Berkevich1


Corn grown in suppressed kura clover requires little or no nitrogen fertilizer, an input cost that is expected to remain high in the foreseeable future. Permanent groundcover in this intercropping system would be expected to minimize soil loss from fields harvested for corn silage or stover for biofuel feedstock, and our preliminary data support this hypothesis. Nitrate concentrations in water below the root zone are substantially lower in the intercropping system than without clover, kura clover smith 2011b_optproviding hope that nitrate contamination of groundwater could be reduced even as corn acreage increases to meet food and energy demands. Much work remains to be done to create profitable cropping systems that allow incorporation of legume living mulches into Wisconsin agriculture, and to more clearly document the environmental impact of these systems.

View experiment results in pdf form here.

1Professor and former graduate student, Dept. of Agronomy, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison
1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706

2Assistant Professor, Dept. of Plant and Soil Science, Oklahoma State Univ.
Stillwater, OK 74078