Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science

First Advisor

Sandeep Kumar


Cover crops and crop residue play a multifunctional role in improving soil hydrological properties, soil water storage and water use efficiency (WUE). This study was conducted to better understand the role of crop residue and cover crop on soil properties and soil water dynamics. The study was conducted at the USDA-ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, located in Brookings, South Dakota. Two residue removal treatments that include low residue removal (LRR) and high residue removal (HRR) were established in 2000 with randomized complete block design under no-till corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) rotation. In 2005, cover crop treatments which include cover crops (CC) and no cover crops (NCC) were integrated into the overall design. Soil samples were collected in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Data from this study showed that the LRR treatment lowered the bulk density (BD) by 7 and 9% compared to HRR in 2015 and 2016, respectively, for the 0-5 cm depth. Similarly, LRR treatment significantly reduced soil penetration resistance (SPR) by 25% in the 0-5 cm depth compared with HRR treatment. Further, LRR treatment significantly increased soil organic carbon (SOC) concentrations and total nitrogen (TN) by 22 and 17%, respectively, in 0-5 cm. Similarly, CC treatment resulted in lower BD and SPR by 7% and 23%, respectively, at the 0-5 cm depth in 2015 compared with NCC treatment. The LRR significantly increased soil water infiltration by 66 and 22% compared to HRR in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Similarly, the CC treatment significantly increased infiltration by 82 and 22% compared to the NCC in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Crop residue significantly impacted the soil water retention (SWR) in 2014 and 2015 for the 0-5 cm depth. The LRR and CC treatments increased the soil volumetric moisture content (VMC) and soil water storage (SWS) at the surface 0-5 cm depth. However, the trend was not always significant during the growing season. The CC treatment significantly impacted the soybean yield by 14% and WUE by 13% compared with NCC treatment. Interactions of residue by cover crops was sometimes observed on BD, SPR, VMC, and SWS, which showed that the use of cover crops with LRR can be beneficial in improving the soil properties.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Soybean -- Water requirements.
Soil moisture.
Cover crops.
Crop residues.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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