Database Research Summaries
Sustainable system approach for improving soil health and managing soybean production

calendar_today Year of Research: 2018
update Posted On: 05/23/2019
group Mahdi Al-Kaisi (Principal Investigator, Iowa State University)
bookmark Iowa Soybean Association

Research Focus

The focus of this project is to conduct field scale research in the Des Moines Lobe to understand and test a system approach that incorporates cover crop in the existing cropping system of corn-soybean rotation.


  • Establish and determine base-line soil analysis for nutrient management (i.e., soil pH and any major fertility need that need to be corrected).
  • Seed corn as first crop in a corn-soybean rotation.
  • Seed cereal rye after corn harvest the fall.
  • Seed soybean in the following spring in all tillage treatments (no-till or strip-tillage and conventional tillage).
  • Drill cereal rye after soybean harvest and leave field as no-till or strip-tillage and conventional tillage.
  • Kill rye the following spring.
  • Plant corn in no-till corn or strip-tillage.


  1. The preliminary findings of this work demonstrated the short-term benefits of cover crop and NT in improving soil health as measured by the improvement of aggregate stability, water infiltration, and reduction in nitrate leaching under cover crop as compared to none cover crop treatments.
  2. The initial indicators of this systems’ approach show the potential value of cover crop in reducing moisture content and improvement in soil temperature for early soybean germination as indicated by increase in soil temperate by 3-4 oF.
  3. The integration of cover crop in the short-term as well as in the long-term is a good management practice for soil health and productivity, coupled with no-till.


  • Economic returns will be increased due to the reduction of input costs related to fuel and labor.
  • Improvement in soil health and water quality.

For more information about this research project, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.

Funded in part by the soybean checkoff.