The relationships among winter cover cropping, inoculum potential of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi, and the growth and yield of a subsequent maize crop were investigated. In the first experiment, an autumn-sown winter wheat cover crop increased VAM fungal inoculum potential of a field soil as measured by an in situ maize bioassay during the following growing season. Infective extra-radical hyphal densities were significantly increased by cover cropping as interpreted from the effect of soil disturbance on infection of the maize bioassay plants. In a second experiment the following year, the winter wheat cover crop again increased VAM fungal inoculum potential as assessed by an in situ maize bioassay during the following growing season. Moreover, the degree of mycorrhizal infection of maize was correlated with maize growth and yield. This study suggests that the management of mycorrhizal fungi by cover cropping may be a useful practice in sustainable agriculture.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Agronomy and Crop Science