Ag Data Commons

File(s) stored somewhere else

Please note: Linked content is NOT stored on Ag Data Commons and we can't guarantee its availability, quality, security or accept any liability.

Dataset for "Cover crop inclusion and residue retention improves soybean production and physiology in drought conditions"

posted on 2024-02-15, 17:57 authored by Craig WhippoCraig Whippo, Nicanor Z. Saliendra, Mark A. Liebig

Data and code for "Cover crop inclusion and residue retention improves soybean production and physiology in drought conditions"

CONTEXT: Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) planting has increased in central and western North Dakota despite frequent drought occurrences that limit productivity.  Soybean plants need high photosynthetic and transpiration rates to be productive, but they also need high water use efficiency when water is limited. Retaining crop residues and including cover crops in crop rotations are management strategies that could improve soybean drought resilience in the northern Great Plains.   

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to examine how a management practice that included cover crops and residue retention impacts agronomic, ecosystem water and carbon dioxide flux, and canopy-scale physiological attributes of soybeans in the northern Great Plains under drought conditions.  

METHODS:  We compared two soybean fields over two years with business-as-usual and aspirational management that included residue retention and cover crops during a drought year.  This comparison was based on yield, aboveground biomass, Phenocam images, and fluxes from eddy covariance and ancillary measurements.  These measurements were used to derive meteorological, physical, and physiological attributes with the ‘big leaf’ framework. 

RESULTS: Soybean yields were 29% higher under drought conditions in the field managed in a system that included cover crops and residue retention. This yield increase was caused by extending the maturity phenophase by 5 days, increasing agronomic and intrinsic water use efficiency by 27% and 33%, respectively, increasing water uptake, and increasing the rubisco-limited photosynthetic capacity (Vcmax25) by 42%.

CONCLUSIONS: The inclusion of cover crops and residue retention into a cropping system improved soybean productivity because of differences in water use, phenology timing, and photosynthetic capacity.

IMPLICATIONS: These results suggest that farmers can improve soybean productivity and yield stability by incorporating cover crops and residue retention into their management practices because these practices allow soybean plants to shift to a more aggressive water uptake strategy.

Data Half_Hourly.csv: Half hour data from eddy covariance towers

Management.csv: data about field management

Phenocamdata.csv: The output of 1_phenocam.Rmd code

Predicted_Height_LAI.csv: The output of 3_Inferring_LAI_and_Height.Rmd

Vegetation.csv: biomass and yield data

Code 1_phenocam.rmd:  Code to download Phenocam data and identify phenophase transition dates.

2_Daily_CO2_Water_Fluxes.Rmd: Code to analyze daily carbon and water fluxes (Figure 1, 2 3 and Table 2).

3_Inferring_LAI_and_Height.Rmd: Code to calculate the predicted LAI and height for each day.  The output is used in the big-leaf framework.

4_Big_Leaf.Rmd: Code for the big-leaf ecophysiology estimates (Figure 4, 5 and 6; Table 3 and 4).

4_Data_Dictionary_Variables: Code to identify the data dictionary variables. 


USDA-ARS: 3064-21660-004-000D


Data contact name

Whippo, Craig

Data contact email



Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • continual


  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description

Mandan, North Dakota

ISO Topic Category

  • biota
  • climatologyMeteorologyAtmosphere
  • environment
  • farming

Ag Data Commons Group

  • Long-Term Agroecosystem Research
  • Northern Plains

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

cover crops; soybeans; drought; Glycine max; photosynthesis; transpiration; water use efficiency; crop residues; Great Plains region; ecosystems; aboveground biomass; eddy covariance; crop yield; water uptake

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 216

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Whippo, Craig W.; Saliendra, Nicanor Z.; Liebig, Mark A. (2023). Dataset for "Cover crop inclusion and residue retention improves soybean production and physiology in drought conditions". Zenodo.