Related ATTRA Publication:
Sweet Corn: Organic Production
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst tested nitrogen-fixing faba bean as a cover crop before sweet corn and found that it could help farmers save up to half of their nitrogen fertilizer cost, reports the American Society of Agronomy. The earliest-planted faba covers in this study produced the most biomass and, thus, the most nitrogen. Cover crops planted August 1 provided twice as much nitrogen as plantings only two weeks later, and also offered an opportunity to harvest some of the fresh faba bean pods. The researchers also found that leaving the faba residue on the soil surface and using no-till planting dispensed nitrogen at a delayed rate that was better for the sweet corn. Appropriately timed faba bean plantings that remained on the soil surface provided half of the nitrogen needed by the subsequent sweet corn crop.