Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences


Brye, Kristofor

Committee Member/Reader

Wood, Lisa

Committee Member/Second Reader

Fryer, Matt

Committee Member/Third Reader

Savin, Mary


Intensive agricultural cultivation within major land resource area (MLRA) 134, the Southern Mississippi Valley Loess, has led to soil erosion, soil compaction, and the overall destabilization of near-surface soil aggregates. The use of cover crops during the agricultural offseason has been shown to help alleviate soil compaction and provide stabilizing effects against soil erosion, which are particularly important as the silty soils of MLRA 134 have a large erosion potential. This study evaluated the effects of cover crop and no-cover crop treatment on silt-loam soils within MLRA 134. Treatments were implemented during Fall 2018 and Fall 2019 and consisted of a range of cover crop species, including cereal rye (Secale cereale), black oats (Avena strigose), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum), and Austrian winter pea (Pisum sativum subsp. Arvense). Soil samples from the top 10 cm were collected to evaluate soil bulk density, pH, soil texture, water-stable aggregates (WSA), total WSA, soil organic matter (SOM), and Mehlich-3 extractable nutrients. Soil texture, pH, and SOM and Mehlich-3 extractable nutrient (i.e., Mg, Na, Ca) concentrations and contents were unaffected (P > 0.05) by treatment. Total WSA was unaffected (P > 0.05) by cover crop treatment or soil depth (i.e., 0-5 and 5-10 cm). Soil bulk density was greater (P < 0.05) without cover crops (1.27 g cm-3 ) than with cover crops (1.24 g cm-3 ). Water-stable aggregate concentration was unaffected (P > 0.05) by cover crop treatment or soil depth but was 21.47 times greater (P < 0.05) in the 0-0.25-mm (1.138 g g1 ) than in the > 4-mm (0.053 g g-1 ) size class. Study results indicate that cover crops can have short-term, positive effects on soil properties, but a long-term commitment to cover crops is likely necessary for the full realization of potential benefits.


Cover Crop, Arkansas, Aggregate Stability, Water Stable Aggregates, MLRA 134, Soil