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Winter rye cover crops can help reduce nitrate levels in drainage water

August 14, 2023  By Daniel Hall | Energy Portal

Results published in the journal Environmental Research Letters revealed that establishing a winter rye cover crop between corn-soybean rotations reduced nitrate levels in drainage water by over 45% compared to fields without rye. This reduction in nitrate loads entering the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River basin can help improve water quality and reduce the size of the hypoxic “dead zone” in coastal waters.

In addition to reducing nitrate losses, winter rye cover crops have the potential to sequester carbon. The simulations showed that across the North Central U.S., such cover crops could produce over 18 million metric tons of biomass annually. | READ MORE

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