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Finding the best fit      cover crops in organic farming systems        Dr. Joel Gruver      WIU – Agriculture      j-gruv...
A typical view 50 years ago
Typical rural landscape   in IA and IL today  >90% of landsurface   in corn or soybeans
This is notgoing to work for organic   farming  systems!
What do modern organic farming systems look like?
Where do cover crops fit in modern organic farming systems?
Cover crops are not the missing puzzle piece(s)          in current crop rotations!     http://www.ncl.ac.uk/tcoa/files/br...
Overview of book contents   • Problems and opportunities for over 500 crop                   sequences• Characteristics of...
Overview of book contents   • Problems and opportunities for over 500 crop                   sequences• Characteristics of...
Excellent information on integrating cover crops with agronomic crops               http://ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/0...
Conservation                  Augmentation3 broad goals of                                Activation   ecological         ...
More “conservation” is needed!    Organic farm in NW Missouri
Terminating spring planted oats with a soil finisher          ~ 3 weeks before planting corn   biological activation (enha...
Cover crops have many effects!   Feedlivestock            Cover            Crops                    Adapted from Magdoff a...
Not all are positive                Host                pests                             Tie up N                        ...
Avoid haphazard use of cover crops                                  What am I                                supposed to d...
Matching specific objectives with species                            Grazing    brassicas, clovers, small grains, a. ryegr...
Have you tried any forage brassicas?                                                                #1Ethiopian           ...
Historically     crop rotationsrevolved around   LEGUMES
Do all legumes add N to the soil?                   Soybean seeds                    often contain                  >25% m...
Typical amounts of nitrogen       fixed by legumes (lbs/ac/yr)      Alfalfa              150-300+    Soybeans             ...
133 lbs of K/ac                          52 lbs of Ca/ac                  Only legumes ―fix‖ nitrogen                    H...
Best single source of info on cover crops is FREE!
Best collection of information on cover cropping in the Midwest
What to Look For in A Cover Crop   • Fast germination and emergence             • Competitiveness • Tolerance to adverse c...
Additional considerations               How will I seed the cover crop?What will soil temperature and moisture conditions ...
Effective multi-tasking or cover crop chaos???
Mixes can addboth performanceand challenges!
Do you see any cover crops??
Frost seeded red clover the most tried    and truecover cropping    systemin the Midwest     region
There are lots of opportunities following small grains!
Hairy vetch can be successfully planted afterwheat harvest. On the two occasions (out of 18  site-years of the WI Cropping...
Sweet                             cloverMustard   is not the only          option for frost              seeding
http://calshort-lamp.cit.cornell.edu/bjorkman/covercrops/spring-mustard.php
Klaas and Mary Martens,   organic innovators in  Central NY State, arereporting excellent results     with frost-seeded  c...
Mustard variety trial at the WIU Organic Research farm                           (Spring 2011)        Pacific Gold        ...
Mustards (and other brassicas) are very    responsive to N availability
Mustards (and other brassicas) are easy to     kill and decompose rapidly
Sunflowers perform well planted mid-summer    following spring planted cover crops
July 17 planting
July 29 plantingNot recommended
Are you equipped to handle a situation like this?
10’ Howard Rotavator tilling ~ 3” deep with C blades
Complete kill after 1 pass   and 2 days of sun
Typical weather in 2009/2010 :-<
Are you familiar with the fence post principle?                    Zone of maximum biological                   activity a...
Where are the soybeans??   Traditional organic weed management   often comes up short during wet years A strong stand of c...
JD 730 Air-Disk drill on Jack Erisman’s farm in Pana, ILJack uses this rig to drill soybeans on 6" rows (~ 280,000/ac)    ...
Dramatic impact of timing and weather on weed pressure
Planted 1 week later after a heavy rain
Lots of weeds but very fewtowering monsters of maternity :->
40 lbs/a of cereal rye seeded over     soybean rows at planting                        provided some weed                 ...
Organic No-till?                                  Less                                weed seed                           ...
Early July 2009
Early August 2009
Early November 2009Plot yields ranged from 51.6 to 58.6 bu/ac    No significant differences between systems
November 2010   Significant foxtail pressure but almost no broadleaf weedsPlot yields ranged from 42-52 bu/ac
About 1 month ago
Soybean health experiment – 6 locations across IL                    November 2010                   Mustard              ...
Does anyone recognize this cover crop?
A different approach to organic no-till beans  Soybeans no-till drilledinto pasture after scalping     with a flail mower
Bio-strip tillSeptember 2008
September 2009   Attempt #2
Tillage radish on 30” rows with oats on 7.5” rows                November 2009
Radish planted on 30‖ rows (~ 2.5 lbs/a) using milo plates in mid-August 2010
Close up of wide row radishes in fall 2010
Cultivating wide row radishes in fall 2010
Ridged radishes in spring 2011
Planting popcorn on radish   ridges in spring 2011
Field appearance after 1 round
Ontario, Canada
Recently cultivated radishes in fall 2011
Annual ryegrass variety trial     November 2010
A. ryegrass roots grow deep evenon poorly drained      soils
A. ryegrass ishard to kill with     tillage
Wheat + radish trial  November 20101lb/a of radish - > 2.5 bu yield gain
Cover crops generally require more managementthan manure or purchased nutrient amendments
Updated in 2010!
Successful organicfarming takes a highlevel of skill and will!
Cover Crops Decatur
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Cover Crops Decatur

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I shared this presentation at the Effective Cover Cropping in the Midwest conference in Decatur IL on 12/8/2011

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Transcript of "Cover Crops Decatur"

  1. 1. Finding the best fit cover crops in organic farming systems Dr. Joel Gruver WIU – Agriculture j-gruver@wiu.edu
  2. 2. A typical view 50 years ago
  3. 3. Typical rural landscape in IA and IL today >90% of landsurface in corn or soybeans
  4. 4. This is notgoing to work for organic farming systems!
  5. 5. What do modern organic farming systems look like?
  6. 6. Where do cover crops fit in modern organic farming systems?
  7. 7. Cover crops are not the missing puzzle piece(s) in current crop rotations! http://www.ncl.ac.uk/tcoa/files/breakcrops_orgagr.pdf
  8. 8. Overview of book contents • Problems and opportunities for over 500 crop sequences• Characteristics of more than 60 crops and 70 weeds • Crop diseases hosted by over 80 weed species• Modes of transmission for 250 diseases of 24 crops • Thirteen sample four- and five-year vegetable and Rotations grain crop rotations Managing Crop Rotation Chart should evolve with key tasks & steps not revolve •Sample worksheets and calculations• Step-by-step procedure for determining crop rotation plans
  9. 9. Overview of book contents • Problems and opportunities for over 500 crop sequences• Characteristics of more than 60 crops and 70 weeds • Crop diseases hosted by over 80 weed species• Modes of transmission for 250 diseases of 24 crops • Thirteen sample four- and five-year vegetable and grain crop rotations Managing Crop Rotation Chart with key tasks & steps •Sample worksheets and calculations• Step-by-step procedure for determining crop rotation plans
  10. 10. Excellent information on integrating cover crops with agronomic crops http://ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/0009.pdf
  11. 11. Conservation Augmentation3 broad goals of Activation ecological & deactivation management underpin effective organic farming systems
  12. 12. More “conservation” is needed! Organic farm in NW Missouri
  13. 13. Terminating spring planted oats with a soil finisher ~ 3 weeks before planting corn biological activation (enhanced nutrient cycling) & deactivation (weed suppression)
  14. 14. Cover crops have many effects! Feedlivestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  15. 15. Not all are positive Host pests Tie up N ? ? Become a weed Interfere w/ equipment performance Suppresscrop growth Cover Crops Dry out soil Prevent excessively soil Add cost drying Increase management Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  16. 16. Avoid haphazard use of cover crops What am I supposed to do now?Develop a plan to increase beneficial effects while minimizing negative effects
  17. 17. Matching specific objectives with species Grazing brassicas, clovers, small grains, a. ryegrass, sorghum-sudan Nutrient scavenging/cycling brassicas, small grains, annual ryegrass Bio-drilling brassicas, sugarbeet, sunflower, sorghum-sudan sweet clover, alfalfa N-fixationclovers, vetches, lentil, winter pea, chickling vetch, sun hemp, cowpea, soybean Bio-activation/fumigation brassicas, sorghum-sudan, sun hemp, sesame Weed suppression brassicas, sorghum-sudan, cereal rye, buckwheat
  18. 18. Have you tried any forage brassicas? #1Ethiopian opportunity tocabbage Winfred make cover crops pay http://www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk/2005/12/brassicas.html Hunter
  19. 19. Historically crop rotationsrevolved around LEGUMES
  20. 20. Do all legumes add N to the soil? Soybean seeds often contain >25% more N than was fixed within their nodules
  21. 21. Typical amounts of nitrogen fixed by legumes (lbs/ac/yr) Alfalfa 150-300+ Soybeans 150-250 Hairy vetch 75-200 Red clover 75-150Other annual forage 50-150 legumes
  22. 22. 133 lbs of K/ac 52 lbs of Ca/ac Only legumes ―fix‖ nitrogen Hairy Vetch 3,260 lbs of DM/ac 141 lbs of N/ac All cover crops capture and recycle plant essential nutrients18 lbs of P/ac 18 lbs of Mg/ac
  23. 23. Best single source of info on cover crops is FREE!
  24. 24. Best collection of information on cover cropping in the Midwest
  25. 25. What to Look For in A Cover Crop • Fast germination and emergence • Competitiveness • Tolerance to adverse climatic & soil conditions • Ease of suppression/residue management • Fertility/soil quality benefits • Low-cost
  26. 26. Additional considerations How will I seed the cover crop?What will soil temperature and moisture conditions be like? What weather extremes and field traffic must it tolerate? Will it winterkill in my area? Should it winterkill to meet my goals? What kind of regrowth can I expect? How will I kill it and plant into it? Will I have the time to make this work? What’s my contingency plan—and risks—if the cover crop doesn’t establish or doesn’t die on schedule? Do I have the needed equipment and labor? Start planning now for next fall!
  27. 27. Effective multi-tasking or cover crop chaos???
  28. 28. Mixes can addboth performanceand challenges!
  29. 29. Do you see any cover crops??
  30. 30. Frost seeded red clover the most tried and truecover cropping systemin the Midwest region
  31. 31. There are lots of opportunities following small grains!
  32. 32. Hairy vetch can be successfully planted afterwheat harvest. On the two occasions (out of 18 site-years of the WI Cropping System Trial) when the red clover failed to establish well,hairy vetch produced an average of 115 lbs N/a providing an excellent ―back-up plan‖. July/August plantings of vetch or other cover crops are riskier than frost seeding clover.
  33. 33. Sweet cloverMustard is not the only option for frost seeding
  34. 34. http://calshort-lamp.cit.cornell.edu/bjorkman/covercrops/spring-mustard.php
  35. 35. Klaas and Mary Martens, organic innovators in Central NY State, arereporting excellent results with frost-seeded confectionary mustard ahead of dry beans
  36. 36. Mustard variety trial at the WIU Organic Research farm (Spring 2011) Pacific Gold IdaGold slower to mature but matures faster but more biomass less biomass
  37. 37. Mustards (and other brassicas) are very responsive to N availability
  38. 38. Mustards (and other brassicas) are easy to kill and decompose rapidly
  39. 39. Sunflowers perform well planted mid-summer following spring planted cover crops
  40. 40. July 17 planting
  41. 41. July 29 plantingNot recommended
  42. 42. Are you equipped to handle a situation like this?
  43. 43. 10’ Howard Rotavator tilling ~ 3” deep with C blades
  44. 44. Complete kill after 1 pass and 2 days of sun
  45. 45. Typical weather in 2009/2010 :-<
  46. 46. Are you familiar with the fence post principle? Zone of maximum biological activity and rapid residue decay Deeper burial does not optimize decay but sends weed seeds into deep dormancy and brings deeply dormant weed seeds to the surface where they germinate slowly
  47. 47. Where are the soybeans?? Traditional organic weed management often comes up short during wet years A strong stand of cereal rye was incorporated~ 2 weeks before these soybeans were planted
  48. 48. JD 730 Air-Disk drill on Jack Erisman’s farm in Pana, ILJack uses this rig to drill soybeans on 6" rows (~ 280,000/ac) while also dropping about 2 bushel of rye and some micronutrients
  49. 49. Dramatic impact of timing and weather on weed pressure
  50. 50. Planted 1 week later after a heavy rain
  51. 51. Lots of weeds but very fewtowering monsters of maternity :->
  52. 52. 40 lbs/a of cereal rye seeded over soybean rows at planting provided some weed suppression and no yield loss for 2 reps
  53. 53. Organic No-till? Less weed seed germinationRodale roller …but few options for weed termination Cultimulcher
  54. 54. Early July 2009
  55. 55. Early August 2009
  56. 56. Early November 2009Plot yields ranged from 51.6 to 58.6 bu/ac No significant differences between systems
  57. 57. November 2010 Significant foxtail pressure but almost no broadleaf weedsPlot yields ranged from 42-52 bu/ac
  58. 58. About 1 month ago
  59. 59. Soybean health experiment – 6 locations across IL November 2010 Mustard Rapeseed Canola Cereal rye
  60. 60. Does anyone recognize this cover crop?
  61. 61. A different approach to organic no-till beans Soybeans no-till drilledinto pasture after scalping with a flail mower
  62. 62. Bio-strip tillSeptember 2008
  63. 63. September 2009 Attempt #2
  64. 64. Tillage radish on 30” rows with oats on 7.5” rows November 2009
  65. 65. Radish planted on 30‖ rows (~ 2.5 lbs/a) using milo plates in mid-August 2010
  66. 66. Close up of wide row radishes in fall 2010
  67. 67. Cultivating wide row radishes in fall 2010
  68. 68. Ridged radishes in spring 2011
  69. 69. Planting popcorn on radish ridges in spring 2011
  70. 70. Field appearance after 1 round
  71. 71. Ontario, Canada
  72. 72. Recently cultivated radishes in fall 2011
  73. 73. Annual ryegrass variety trial November 2010
  74. 74. A. ryegrass roots grow deep evenon poorly drained soils
  75. 75. A. ryegrass ishard to kill with tillage
  76. 76. Wheat + radish trial November 20101lb/a of radish - > 2.5 bu yield gain
  77. 77. Cover crops generally require more managementthan manure or purchased nutrient amendments
  78. 78. Updated in 2010!
  79. 79. Successful organicfarming takes a highlevel of skill and will!
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