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7. Cover Crops in Ontario Production Systems - Anne Verhallen

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Learn about the long-term Ontario research on cover crop impacts on yields and economics and about cover crop selection and termination. Anne Verhallen, Mike Cowbrough, OMAFRA

Published in: Food
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7. Cover Crops in Ontario Production Systems - Anne Verhallen

  1. 1. Cover Crops in Ontario Production Systems Anne Verhallen Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  2. 2. 5 STEP PLAN TO COVER CROPPING • Water and wind erosion • Nutrients – scavenge/create • Soil structure - increased stability, biopores and organic matter • Trafficability • Pest management – suppress weeds, diseases, insects • Diversity – support beneficial insects, spiders and soil borne organisms • Feed
  3. 3. Decision tools to aid with cover crop choices mccc.msu.edu
  4. 4. MCCC Cover Crop Decision Tool
  5. 5. Each cover crop has a “specs” page with more information
  6. 6. Organic corn - Harrow AAFC Cover Crop Nitrogen production
  7. 7. Comparison of in situ and ex situ freeze-thaw cycling on phosphorus losses from cover crops – James Cober et al Highlights: Cover crops - red clover, cereal rye, vetch, oat, and oilseed radish Conditions – 4 °C, -4 to 4 °C, -18 to 4 °C, and - 18 to 10 °C Results - hardier species, vetch and rye, release significantly less WEP And what about nutrient losses? Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Harrow – Xueming Zhang et al - Reduction of soil nitrate levels of 55 to 65 kg/ha after wheat harvest
  8. 8. 186 157 175 217 202 217 190 191 198 162 184 214 228 225 200 200 100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240 GrainYield(bu/ac) 2010 2011 Corn Yields after Wheat +/- Red Clover Ridgetown 2010-16 +RC 2012 Ave Hooker (UG Ridgetown) Fertilizer N applied to all plots @ 180-240 lbs N/ac (N sufficient) * = difference significant at P=0.05 2013 +RC +RC +RC +RC @cropdoc2 +RC +RC +RC 2014 2015 2016 *
  9. 9. SOIL ORGANIC CARBON 2015 and 2016, all sample dates – unpublished Chahal and Van Eerd 2016 a a a a b (%) 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 Rye Radish+Rye Radish Oat No Cover SoilOrganicCarbon Long-term cover crop (7yr) experiment
  10. 10. Water Infiltration 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 TR large TR multi oats nothing holedrainage initialdrainage Water Infiltration (seconds required to drain 2.5 cm)
  11. 11. Photo credit: Mike Buis Produce Forage Thames Valley SCIA project
  12. 12. 5 STEP PLAN TO COVER CROPPING ontario.ca/covercrops
  13. 13. 5 STEP PLAN TO COVER CROPPING Seeding - Less is more (unless harvesting for feed) - Increase seeding rate later in fall
  14. 14. Approximate Biomass Yield of Three Cover Crop Mixes with and without Organic Amendments Cover Crop With Manure Without Manure Increase from manure Approximate Yield (ton/ac)* Oats 3.6 2.8 33 % Multi-Species Mix: Planted at 40 lbs/ac 33% Oats, 4% Nitro radish, 2% Brassica, 2% Sorghum Sudangrass, 1% Phacelia, 2% Sunflowers, 4% Sun hemp, 5% Turnips, 25% Crimson Clover, 23% Austrian Peas 2.10 1.75 17 % 3 Species Mix: Planted at 30 lbs/ac 14% Nitro Radish, 16% Crimson Clover, 70% Oats 2.85 1.83 36 % * biomass yield that includes top-growth and comparative root mass The above data represents one site –one year 3,500 gal/ac digestate was applied in mid-August. Nutrient composition of digestate is similar to hog manure. From Christine Brown, OMAFRA
  15. 15. 5 STEP PLAN TO COVER CROPPING Basic agronomic principles still hold: • Soil to seed contact • Competition from volunteer grain • Seeding rates and depth
  16. 16. What about volunteer wheat? 18 Thamesville Oct 11 – 854 kg/ha Ridgetown – Oct 17 50 kgs/hectare Thamesville Oct 3 – 282 kg/ha Concerns: • Volunteer wheat stand not consistent • Weeds
  17. 17. 5 STEP PLAN TO COVER CROPPING
  18. 18. 5 STEP PLAN TO COVER CROPPING Source: @LVanEerd 2018
  19. 19. Now what does the research say about yield?
  20. 20. 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 1 3 6 8 9 11 13 14 18 19 20 1 3 6 8 9 11 13 14 18 19 20 Thamesville Ridgetown Average#PerTreatment Treatment by Location Cover Crop Trials 2017 - Millipedes and Slugs Millipedes Slugs St Clair Region – OSCIA Tier II project 2017 data
  21. 21. Anne Verhallen anne.verhallen@ontario.ca 519 674-1614 @Anne_Verhallen

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