Probabilistic Assessment of Cereal Rye Cover Crop Impacts on Regional Crop Yield and Soil Carbon

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Field research for exploring the impact of winter cover crops (WCCs) integration into cropping systems is resource intensive, time-consuming and offers limited application beyond the study area. To bridge this gap, we used the APSIM model, to simulate corn (Zea mays L.)-rye (Secale cereale L.)-corn-rye and corn-rye-soybean (Glycine max L.)-rye rotations in comparison with corn-corn and corn-soybean rotations across the state of Illinois at a spatial resolution of 5 km × 5 km from 2000 to 2020 to study the impact of WCCs on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics and crop production. By propagating the uncertainty in model simulations associated with initial conditions, weather, soil, and management practices, we estimated the probability and the expected value of change in crop yield and SOC following WCC integration. Our results suggest that integrating cereal rye into the crop rotations imparted greater yield stability for corn across the state. It was found that the areas with low probability of increase in SOC (p < 0.75) responded equally well for soil carbon sequestration through long term adoption of WCCs. This study presents the most complete uncertainty accounting of WCC benefits across a broad region and provides greater insights into the spatiotemporal variability of WCCs benefits for increasing WCC adoption rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number176
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023


  • cereal rye
  • regional crop modeling
  • cover crops
  • carbon sequestration
  • yield stability


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