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

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

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Cover Crops Decatur Cover Crops Decatur Presentation Transcript

  • Finding the best fit cover crops in organic farming systems Dr. Joel Gruver WIU – Agriculture j-gruver@wiu.edu
  • 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/breakcrops_orgagr.pdf
  • 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
  • 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
  • Excellent information on integrating cover crops with agronomic crops http://ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/0009.pdf
  • Conservation Augmentation3 broad goals of Activation ecological & deactivation management underpin effective organic farming systems
  • More “conservation” is needed! Organic farm in NW Missouri
  • Terminating spring planted oats with a soil finisher ~ 3 weeks before planting corn biological activation (enhanced nutrient cycling) & deactivation (weed suppression)
  • Cover crops have many effects! Feedlivestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  • 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)
  • Avoid haphazard use of cover crops What am I supposed to do now?Develop a plan to increase beneficial effects while minimizing negative effects
  • 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
  • Have you tried any forage brassicas? #1Ethiopian opportunity tocabbage Winfred make cover crops pay http://www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk/2005/12/brassicas.html Hunter
  • Historically crop rotationsrevolved around LEGUMES
  • Do all legumes add N to the soil? Soybean seeds often contain >25% more N than was fixed within their nodules
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 climatic & soil conditions • Ease of suppression/residue management • Fertility/soil quality benefits • Low-cost
  • 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!
  • 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 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.
  • 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 confectionary mustard ahead of dry beans
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 suppression and no yield loss for 2 reps
  • Organic No-till? Less weed seed germinationRodale roller …but few options for weed termination Cultimulcher
  • 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 Rapeseed Canola Cereal rye
  • 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!