Towards understanding soil health-induced changes in nitrogen dynamics with long-term cover cropping

Lead Applicant: Laura Van Eerd

Research Priority: Soil Health Projects

Program Type: Tier 1

Funding Cycle: 2022/2023

Research Centre: Ontario Crops Research Centre - Ridgetown

Research Summary: Cover crops (CC) are an important practice for soil health and nutrient management. However, there have been few opportunities to empirically evaluate it due to inherent differences in soil type and/or production systems. The exception is the state-of-the-art long-term CC experiment at Ridgetown, where soil health is about 17% greater with annual CC. This led us to hypothesize that CC-induced increases in soil organic matter was increasing nitrogen availability to corn. The proposed research will use tracer fertilizer (15N) to explore the mechanisms of nitrogen availability and organic nitrogen storage with long-term cover cropping. This research will allow for a better understanding of CC on soil health and nitrogen, potentially reducing farmers' costs and mitigating environmental consequences.