Title

An Economic Analysis of Annual Ryegrass Management Practices in Soybean Production

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ag Science and Natural Resources

Date of Award

Summer 2022

Abstract

This study evaluates the effect ryegrass cover crop has on no-till soybean yield, grain density, and plant height. Additionally, it intends to calculate the profitability of harvesting ryegrass for forage. Annual ryegrass can be considered a dual-purpose crop, it is a cool-season annual bunchgrass that due to his high palatability and digestibility is considered high valued for forage (Hannaway et al., 1999). Grazing cover crops is economically viable when returns offset establishment costs without reducing crop yields (Schomberg et al., 2014). This research studied plots with emerged volunteer annual ryegrass. Plots were 1.5 m (5 ft) in width and 6.1 m (20 ft) in length with at least 4 replications in a randomized complete design. Eight treatments, all followed by soybean, were established on December 23, 2020: volunteer ryegrass as a cover crop, ryegrass clipped in late spring, ryegrass clipped in early spring, broad-leaf herbicide application (Atrazine) in early spring followed by late spring clipping, three different herbicides applications that vary in timing (December, February, and March application), and herbicide plus a residual on winter. All forage and cover crop plots were terminated with Glyphosate or Paraquat at least 2 weeks prior to planting soybeans. Plots were harvested using a plot combine. ANOVA and Tukey tests were conducted with an alpha of 0.05 to determine if statistical differences existed in soybean yield, height, and density. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to determine the profitability of using ryegrass forage using 2020 Texas Agriculture Custom Rates (Klose, 2020) on Excel 2016 version. Results showed no difference between the cover cropping treatment and ryegrass forage production compared to herbicide treatments for any of the variables evaluated. Results also indicated that ryegrass can produce up to 2,446 pounds of dry matter that can be commercialized as hay and generate a profit between $115 and $122 per acre. Lastly, results indicated that if the land is leased for grazing it could generate a profit of $25.40 per acre, this considering that ryegrass will regrow evenly in the field for two cycles producing 449 pounds of dry matter per cycle.

Advisor

Jose Lopez

Subject Categories

Agriculture | Life Sciences

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