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Interseeding faba bean, forage pea , clovers and rye into standing corn

Berti, MS student Bryce Andersen

Quality forage late in the season in North Dakota is not always easy to come by. Often cattle graze corn stalks after harvest, but their protein requirements cannot be fulfilled by post-harvest residue alone. Faba bean has been shown to have higher crude protein than other commonly grazed legumes. Adding faba bean to the mixture by interseeding during the season could be a crucial nutrient supplement, provide cheaper feed, and help to keep cattle out of the feedlot later into the fall. Faba bean, forage pea, balansa clover (Trifolium balansae L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), and rye, were interseeded into corn in a twin-row, 15 cm apart, at two different seeding dates, V8 and R4. Once corn was harvested or shortly before the first expected hard frost, biomass samples were collected by hand clipping all aboveground biomass in two 1-m length rows. Differences were seen in intercrop biomass with rye yielding greatest at 375 kg ha-1, followed by faba bean, then forage pea, red clover. Balansa clover was lost in a large majority of the plots. A significant interaction was seed between cover crop biomass and planting date, with the second date typically yielding more. This is due to summers being dry and the earlier planting date typically saw large reductions in stand throughout a dry June and August. Phosphorous was the only biomass component where a significant difference was seen, with forage pea, rye, and faba bean having more than red clover. Corn stand count, biomass, test weight, and yield were not influenced by the intercrops. Rye, faba bean, and late intercropped forage pea showed the most promise, however, intercrop yields were relatively low due to abnormal summer droughts. There are many other cover crops, along with planting dates and strategies to be tested in the future.


Faba bean (Vicia faba var. minor Roth.) is grown worldwide as a protein source for food, is used for animal feed as a replacement of imported soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] meal and is the most common cover crop in cereal-based cropping systems in Europe. Despite these attributes, its use as a cover crop to reduce lost resources through leaching and erosion, as well as rebuilding the topsoil, and providing late season grazing is underutilized in Midwest farming systems. Both studies were conducted in Prosper and Hickson, ND, in 2017. The first study’s objective was to determine whether faba bean, grows suitably when seeded after wheat harvest and when interseeded into corn. Faba bean field pea, and forage pea were evaluated for biomass and nitrogen accumulation.  In the second study, faba bean, forage pea, balansa clover (Trifolium michelianum Savi), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), and winter rye were evaluated for biomass and nitrogen accumulation when interseeded into corn. Cover crop treatments after wheat were found to have no significant differences with an overall average biomass yield of 1490 kg ha-1 in autumn. No difference in soil NO3-N was found between the cover crop treatments or the check plot. In the second experiment, due to dry conditions, interseeded cover crops had low biomass yields with winter rye being the greatest (590 kg ha-1) and with faba bean, forage pea, and red clover having significantly less, but not different from each other. Balansa clover did not survive. Interseeded cover crop were found to have no effect on corn growth, yield, or soil NO3-N.

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