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Cover Crop Use in Semi-Arid Regions

By Katie L. Lewis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Soil Chemistry and Fertility
Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Texas Tech University

By Paul DeLaune, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Environmental Soil Science
Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Vernon, Texas
Phone: 940-552-9941 ext. 207 Email:

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Summary: By implementing reduced tillage and rye and mixed species (rye, hairy vetch, winter pea, and radish) cover crops, soil organic carbon has increased from 0.2% to 0.4%. This increase has been a slow process taking nearly 20 years in Lamesa, TX, a semi-arid region of the Southern High Plains of Texas. While the benefits of conservation practices to soil have been observed, cotton lint yield has not been consistent from one year to the next. Management practices of cover crops must be regionally focused to maintain cotton lint yields while enhancing the quality of our soil.

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