Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Crop, Soil & Environmental Sciences (MS)

Degree Level



Crop, Soil & Environmental Sciences


David Longer

Committee Member

Rick Norman

Second Committee Member

Michael Popp

Third Committee Member

Jason Kelley

Fourth Committee Member

Vaughn Skinner


Cover Crop


Leguminous cover crops, which fix nitrogen (N) from the atmosphere and add to the N content of the soil, have the potential to replace or partially replace commercial nitrogen fertilizers. In this experiment, field pea (Pisum arvense) was used as the leguminous cover crop in a conventional tilled corn (Zea mays) production system. In a 2-yr experiment (2008 and 2009), conducted at two locations in Arkansas, field pea was planted on half the field in the fall and allowed to grow until late April to early May. Field pea biomass was recorded, N content of biomass determined and then the pea plants were plowed into the soil followed by corn planting. Six nitrogen fertilizer rates were applied at 0, 56, 112, 168, 224, and 280 kg N ha-1 to plots with and without the pea cover crop. The field pea cover crop provided a significant amount of the N needs of the corn. The N fertilizer equivalent of the field pea cover crop to the following corn crop averaged 79 kg N ha-1. Consequently, corn grown following the field pea cover crop was able to maximize grain yield on a lower rate of N fertilizer compared to corn following no pea cover crop. This has useful implications to increase producer profitability, decrease N fertilizer use, and improve the environment.