Quantifying the effectiveness of cover crops as a means of increased water infiltration and reduced evaporation in the northern region
This cross-sectoral project investigated the effectiveness of cover crops to increase infiltration, reduce evaporation, and increase plant-available water for dryland grain and cotton and irrigated cotton. The research found that cover crops can protect the soil from erosion in low cover fallows and maintain stored water in most years. Importantly, the project has measured much higher yield at some dryland grain and irrigated cotton sites; up to three times higher than can be explained by differences in soil water alone. These responses appear to be due to better establishment, increased in-crop infiltration, better water extraction, and perhaps improved soil biology.
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