Finding the best fit
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Finding the best fit



This presentation was shared on 1/6 at the IL Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference

This presentation was shared on 1/6 at the IL Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference



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Finding the best fit Finding the best fit Presentation Transcript

  • Finding the best fit cover crops on your organic farm Dr. Joel Gruver WIU – Agriculture
  • Historically crop rotations revolved around LEGUMES
  • A typical view 50 years ago
  • Typical rural landscape in IA and IL today >90% of landsurface in corn or soybeans
  • Typical amounts of nitrogen fixed by legumes (lbs/ac/yr) Alfalfa 150-300+ Soybeans 150-250 Red clover 75-200 Hairy vetch 75-200 Other annual forage 50-150 legumes
  • Soybean seeds normally contain 25-50% more N than was fixed within their nodules
  • 133 lbs of K/ac 52 lbs of Ca/ac Hairy Vetch 3,260 lbs of DM/ac 141 lbs of N/ac 18 lbs of P/ac 18 lbs of Mg/ac
  • Finding the best fit for CCs within a crop rotation :
  • Conservation Augmentation 3 broad goals of ecological Activation management
  • Terminating spring planted oats with a soil finisher ~ 3 weeks before planting corn GOAL = biological activation
  • 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
  • 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
  • Cover crops have many effects! Feed livestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  • Not all are positive Host pests Tie up N ? ? Become a weed Interfere w/ equipment performance Suppress crop growth Cover Crops Dry out soil Prevent excessively soil Add cost drying Increase management Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  • Matching specific objectives with species Grazing brassicas, clovers, small grains, ryegrass, sorghum-sudan Nutrient Cycling brassicas, small grains, annual ryegrass Bio-drilling brassicas, sugarbeet, sunflower, sorghum-sudan sweet clover, alfalfa N-fixation clovers, vetches, lentil, winter pea, chickling vetch, sun hemp, cowpea, soybean Bio-activation/fumigation brassicas, sorghum-sudan, sun hemp, sesame
  • Key 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!
  • Best single source of info on cover crops is FREE!
  • regularly updated blog on cover crop management
  • There are lots of opportunities following small grains!
  • Have you tried any forage brassicas? Hunter
  • #1 opportunity to make cover crops pay
  • Hairy vetch can be successfully planted after wheat 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.
  • Frost-seeded clover the most tried and true cover cropping system in the Midwest region
  • Sweet clover Mustard
  • Klaas and Mary Martens, organic innovators in Central NY State, are reporting excellent results with frost-seeded confectionary mustard ahead of dry beans
  • Be realistic about potential cover crop challenges
  • 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 :-<
  • 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
  • Organic No-till? Less weed seed germination Rodale roller …but few options for weed termination Cultimulcher
  • Early July 2009
  • Early August 2009
  • Early November 2009 Plot yields ranged from 51.6 to 58.6 bu/ac No significant differences between systems
  • November 2010 Significant foxtail pressure but almost no broadleaf weeds Plot yields ranged from 42-52 bu/ac
  • Soybean health experiment – 6 locations across IL November 2010 Mustard Rapeseed Canola Cereal rye
  • Bio-strip till September 2008
  • September 2009 Attempt #2
  • Tillage radish on 30” rows with oats on 7.5” rows November 2009
  • Radish planted on 30‖ rows using milo plates in mid-August 2010
  • Ontario, Canada
  • November 2010 Radish planted in volunteer cereal rye
  • Annual ryegrass variety trial November 2010
  • Annual ryegrass w/crimson clover
  • Wheat + radish trial November 2010
  • What is a cover crop cocktail?? Sunflowers + soybeans+ buckwheat
  • July 17 planting
  • July 29 planting
  • Cover crops generally require more management than manure or purchased nutrient amendments
  • Many of the 2008 profiles were updated in 2010!