Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant and Environmental Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Dara Park

Committee Member

Dr. Aurelie Poncet

Committee Member

Dr. Brook Russell

Committee Member

Dr. Debabrata Sahoo


Cover crops (CC) offer in-field and environmental benefits when integrated into cropping systems. Low CC adoption in the southern Piedmont of South Carolina is partially due to the lack of information on CC performance and benefits within the region. To address this, eight winter CC and a fallow/pigweed treatment were investigated for their influence on soil temperature, volumetric water content (VWC), percent cover, biomass, and the occurrence of soil water repellency (SWR). A randomized complete block design experiment was conducted in the fall and winter of 2021-2022 (EXP A) and repeated in 2022-2023 (EXP B). Cover crops minimally influenced soil VWC over both experiments with no consistent trend. Cover crops did not influence soil temperatures during EXP A. In EXP B, soil under fallow/pigweed had the highest soil temperatures on two (out of ten) measuring events (ME) (P < 0.05). No SWR was found in either experiment. Establishment, and fresh and dry CC biomass was influenced by rainfall directly before and after seed planting. Regardless of rainfall, annual rye produced cover quickly and yielded high biomass. The crimson clover took longer to establish, but also yielded one of the highest biomasses. This study demonstrated that CC had little influence on soil physical properties and that while cereal rye is a common CC utilized for erosion control, the greater biomass and surface roots of annual rye make it a superior cover crop for use in the Southern Piedmont agroecosystems.



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