Crop Management News
How to Get Started Using Cover Crops in 2015
By T. J. Kartes, ProfitProAG Consultant
There are several steps to consider for those thinking about utilizing cover crops in either a traditional corn/soybean rotation or as a livestock producer. When getting started with cover crops, it is imperative to continue a fertilizer program.
For those currently in a corn/soybean rotation, consider using winter cereal rye in the corn going to beans and annual ryegrass for beans going to corn. These products would be flown on at the end of August to early September, depending on the crop stage. This provides time for some nice growth on the top and a lot of growth under the ground.
At start-up, most customers want two different types of crops. One that overwinters in corn going to soybeans and one that does not overwinter in soybeans going to corn. It works well for those trying to no-till soybeans. In the corn, extra trash is not desirable. Those with cover crop experience may augment with grass in both systems over winter.
The brassica group of cover crops can be added into both mixes if the grower is comfortable with it. However, a wet fall can produce a growth spurt, and they can get too big when combining beans. Switching from radishes to dwarf essex rape and turnips or possibly kale gives the producer more time since they do not have a large tuber coming out of the ground that could get cut off by the combine. Clover produces mixed results so if a cereal grain or a canning crop plan is followed, it could be seeded the end of August or even later although there may not be enough growth with deferred planting.
For producers with livestock, or those who have canning crops or raise cereal grains, the window is wide open for other cover crop types because there is more time to plant them. Brassicas like radish and mustard grow a little taller, clovers with more time for growth and winter peas are alternatives. Another consideration is buckwheat, an excellent phosphorus fixer, that can be added to the mix to help with weed suppression.
Grasses scavenge nitrogen, brassicas scavenge nitrogen and some phosphorus, and legumes build nitrogen. This is why three to four way mixes gives the most bang for
When deciding to start a cover crop program, it is important to seek the counsel of someone with a good track record in the area who gets seed from a good source. It’s important to have a definite plan and a goal in mind before implementing this program.
Manure Management News
Manure Application Increases Value of Cover Crops
By David Widman, ProfitProAG Consultant
Want to increase the value of bioaugmented manure while providing soil benefits? Plant cover crops either before or during manure application (if custom applied, check with applicator).
The soil benefits are many, starting with the fact that the soil is now covered with a growing plant. This alone provides CO2 recapture from the microbial breakdown of soil organic matter that returns carbon to the soil. Cover crops also provide soil protection from rains while maintaining a more stable soil temperature for the microbes. More organic matter remains in the soil since most plants have approximately two-thirds of their biomass as roots, which starts to increase soil organic matter—the home for the microbes. Microbial activity then increases and provides crops with everything they need. More microbes mean better utilization of the nutrients in the soil rhizosphere. As the microbes increase, the food chain in the soil food web increases to support more predator/prey relations in the higher levels, which leads to a more functional and healthier soil. In comparison, poor quality microbes cannot produce nutrient dense food.
Two of the best ways to incorporate cover crops with bioaugmented manure are no-till drill first and then apply bioaugmented manure with a light (no deeper than one inch) soil cultivation or actually apply the cover crop seed with the bioaugmented manure.
Another way is to broadcast spread the cover crop and then apply bioaugmented manure with light tillage (no deeper than one inch) followed by a drag. If the cover crop is already planted, bioaugmented manure can be applied using light tillage or surface application. However, it is important to check into a waiver with NRCS and local county permitting agency prior to implementation.
Cover crops retain more nutrients from bioaugmented manure by holding these nutrients in plant form and protecting the soil from erosion, which keeps plant nutrients in and on the soil for future crop use.
Other key benefits include moisture retention to start germination and available nutrients to use for growth. These nutrients, used by the cover crop, are now locked in plant form, which is less susceptible to leaching or volatilization. This plant material becomes the food for the soil microbes, which recycle the nutrients back into the crop. The more organic matter in the soil, the healthier the microbial community is, which generates healthier, more nutrient dense crops.
In summary, using cover crops with bioaugmented manure benefits the soil. Cover crops provide stability in soil temperature, soil protection and a better home for the soil microbial community. Remember that supplying extra nutrients for the first two to three years of cover crops pays for itself as one can either stop buying these nutrients altogether or at a much reduced application rate. Work with God’s nature and benefits will be plentiful.
Join us for our Thursday, April 16th Teleconference Call featuring:
T. J. Kartes, ProfitProAG Consultant, will discuss several steps to consider for those thinking about utilizing cover crops in either a traditional corn/soybean rotation or as a livestock producer.
David Widman, ProfitProAG Consultant,will discuss how using bioaugmented manure and cover crops benefit the soil.
Unsecured and Secured Financing Available for 2015
Contact David Widman (who has over 30 years of bank lending experience, mostly in agriculture, and grew up on a family farm) about either input or operational financing for 2015 from AgriSpan. With qualified credit, an UNSECURED loan can range from $10,000.00 to $250,000.00; secured financing limit based on your operation. Call 507-640-1095 or email email@example.com for details or to apply.