Oakes Irrigation Research Site
Carrington Research Extension Center * North Dakota State University
P.O. Box 531, Oakes, ND 58474-0531, Voice: (701) 742-2189, FAX: (701) 742-2700, email: rgreenla@ndsuext.nodak.edu




    Planting living mulches into vegetables can help protect and improve soils, and can provide forage for grazing after the vegetable is harvested.  But, if not managed properly, they can also act as weeds, robbing the vegetable of nutrients, water, light, and space.  In this irrigated study, fertilizers and water were applied so there would be enough for both vegetable and living mulch.  The living mulches may also contribute some N to the vegetables.  Competition for light and space depends on the time of planting of vegetable and living mulch, and how vigorously each grows.  If the living mulch grows too fast it will shade or crowd out the vegetable causing yield and quality loses.  If the living mulch grows too slow, or does not establish itself well, there will be less protection for the soil and less forage to graze.  The object of this study is to evaluate three living mulches and several planting dates to see which living mulches and planting dates result in no reduction in vegetable yield and maximum growth of the living mulch.

    We planted barley as a cover crop on May 14.  We transplanted cabbage on May 17 in row spacings of 16 or 21 inches (41 or 53 cm).  Then we planted one of three living mulches (white clover, red clover, or hairy vetch) on either May 21 or June 9. The barley and living mulches were planted between the rows of cabbage. Barley was sprayed with Fusilade to kill it when it was about 6 inches (15 cm) tall.  The living mulches were allowed to grow, unchecked, throughout the growing season.  A check plot with no barley and no living mulch, and a treatment with only barley and no living mulch were included in the study.


Click on date to see picture

Picture Date Barley Cover Crop Living Mulch Date LM planted
No -- --
Yes -- --
Yes White Clover May 21
Yes White Clover June 9
Yes Red Clover May 21
Yes Red Clover June 9
Yes Hairy Vetch May 21
Yes Hairy Vetch June 9


Go to Oakes Irrigation Research Site Pictures, 2004

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