Evaluation of Soil Quality in Vegetables Planted in Plastic Mulch vs. No-Till in Polyculture Cover Crop

Primary Investigator

Kerry Clark
University of Missouri · 209 Mumford Hall · Columbia, MO 65211
660-351-4696 · [email protected]


Kimberly Griffin, Leslie Touzeau, Jill Staples, Robert Kremer, Kristen Veum
University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

James Quinn, University of Missouri Extension, Columbia, MO

Project Period: January 1, 2013- August 31, 2016


This project’s main objective was to determine the effects of a polyculture cover crop, no-till, tillage, and straw, polyethylene and fabric mulch on soil quality, weed control and yield of seven growing systems. Overall, no-till treatments yielded less than tilled treatment and only in the tomato cropping system was there even moderate success with using organic no-till for weed control. In lettuce and broccoli, the timing of cover crop growth stages did not match well with crop planting, leading to the cover crop competing for resources with the cash crop. No-till systems conserved moisture better than tilled systems but using a cover crop and no-till did not have an effect on most soil health indicators during the three year study, with the exception being increased soil microbial biomass under no-till with a cover crop.

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