Cover Crop Innovation in IL


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This is a slightly modified version of the presentation that I shared at the AgMasters conference in Champaign IL on 11/27/2012

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Cover Crop Innovation in IL

  1. Cover crop innovation in Illinois Joel Gruver WIU- Agriculture (309) 298 1215
  2. What isinnovation?
  3. The Ag Industryspends billions of $ each year on R&D
  4. Millions of acres of sales are required to cover R&D costs
  5. Intellectualproperty is aggressively protected
  6. There are no silver bullet solutions thatsustainably balance environmental quality with productivity and profitability in agriculture! A better silver strategy is . . . buckshot! Silver buckshot is a concept promoted by a collaboration of agencies and orgs called GREEN LANDS BLUE WATERS
  7. Winter cover crops Perennial-based crop rotationsPermanent pasture systems Perennial bio-energy crops
  8. Impact of the 2008 floods on IA soils20 tons per acre average soil loss across 2,284,000 ac! Conservation structures needing repair 12,157 Grassed Waterways 8,137 Terraces 3,375 Water and Sediment Control Basins 800 Grade Stabilization StructuresFields with combinations of two or more conservation practices (e.g., no-till + cover crops) performed much better than fields with a single practice
  9. "Farmers are not to blame," said University ofIllinois researcher Mark David. "They are using the same amount of nitrogen as they were 30 years ago and getting much higher corn yields, but we have created a very leaky agricultural system.This allows nitrate to move quickly from fields into ditches and on to the Gulf of Mexico. We need policies that reward farmers to help correct the problem."
  10. Drainage practices should be combinedwith other practices that reduce leaching REDUCTION POTENTIAL Reduce N rate by 25 lbs/a combine summer annuals with winter annuals
  11. Right source missing?concept What’s Good Right rate Right time Right place
  12. Right source Right rate Right timeRight place
  13. The science is clear - cover crops can reduce nitrate leaching at lower cost than most other practices! Bare fallow Kaspar et al. J. Environ. Qual. 36:1503-1511
  14. …while alsoimproving soil health
  15. Same soil type and landscape positionCROP SODStudents in my Soil Properties class are each analyzing paired soils from their farms
  16. A recent survey by Farm Futures magazine of morethan 1,000 farmersfound those on the cutting edge ofconservation were actually more profitable than other farmers. In short, it ispossible to be both green and gold!
  17. Do you know any early adopters? adopt ≠ adaptDo you know any master adapters?Farmers that make cover crops work tend to be master adapters!
  18. Haphazardcover cropping
  19. What am Isupposed to do now?
  20. Very common question received by CC seed vendors in early fall“What covercrop should I plant ???”
  21. Well… what do you want your covercrop to do for you?
  22. Where are the best places for cover crops on your farm? When is the best time forestablishment and termination? What needs to be adjusted to find the best fit?
  23. Are you familiar with the term Precision Conservation?
  24. Start planning today! • Anticipate planting windows • Match objectives with species • Confirm seed availability• Make sure seeding equipment is ready• Identify realistic termination methods • Allocate labor • Develop contingency plans
  25. NEW IL Cover CropDecision Tool
  26. Peer-reviewed publications about CC in IL
  27. Opportunities for planting cover crops • Dormant seeding early or late winter • Frost seeding • In the spring • When planting summer crops • Prevent plant scenarios • While sidedressing • After small grains • After vegetables • After seed corn or silage corn• Aerial or high clearance seeding into standing crops in late summer/early fall • After early corn/bean grain harvest • After full season corn/bean grain harvest
  28. Cover crops should not be viewed as the missing puzzle piece(s) in current cropping systems!
  29. Match CC objectives with species Grazing GRAZING = #1 way to make cover crops pay! 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
  30. Oats, turnips and cereal rye
  31. Franzluebbers AJ and JA Stuedemann. 2008. Soil physical responses to cattle grazing cover crops under conventional and no tillage in the Southern Piedmont USA. Soil and Tillage Research 100, 141-153. • Cover crops (winter or summer) can provide high- quality forage and increase economic return and farmdiversity, but some farmers have been reluctant to take this advantage due to perceived “compaction” caused by animal trampling.• Grazing of cover crops can compact soil, but not to the detrimental levels often perceived.
  33. Radish Roots at ~ 40”after 45 days
  34. Crop root density as affected by preceding cover crop Chen and Weil (2006)
  35. Radishes are not the only good bio-driller!! • much less top growth but deeper roots than cereal rye • much less winter hardy than cereal rye • can be difficult to kill • can be a serious weed in small grains
  36. CCs affect many agronomic factors simultaneously Control erosion Feed livestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  37. Not all effects are positive Host pests Tie up N ? ? Become a weed Interfere w/ equipment performanceSuppress crop growth Cover Crops Dry out soil Prevent excessively soil drying Add cost Increase management Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  38. Reduce Risk • Enroll in programs that pay you to plant CCs • Use time tested CC methods • Use more than one method of planting CCs • Plant mixtures/cocktails• Grow some crops e.g. small grains, vegetables, corn silage, shorter season hybrids/varieties that are harvested early • Plan residual herbicide programs carefully • Scout for insect pests that are attracted to residue • Irrigate
  39. Traditional cover cropping in the Midwest The most tried and true cover cropping system in the Midwest region Frost seeded red clover
  40. There are lots of options after small grain harvest
  41. Drilling CC after corn/bean harvest is a good option for a limited # of acres!
  42. There are many options other than drilling
  43. Use precision planting
  44. Precision planted radishesat the WIU Organic research farm
  45. Precision planted cover crops in Indiana
  46. Annual ryegrass & radishes aerial seeded into soybeans at leaf drop.Aerial seeding is fast and relatively cheap but more sensitive to weather
  47. Set-up for efficient aerial seeding in SE IASteve Nebel
  48. SteveNebel 25-50% YELLOW
  49. Steve Nebel 25-50% LIGHT PENETRATION
  50. IA and IL Aerial Applicator Survey (May-June 2010)Name Location Experience w/CC Cost no exp., no customerCady Aerial Spray Rock Falls, IL interest $8.00/a norm app $8.50/a ccBenoit AerialSpraying Kankakee, IL turnips and rye $8.00/a norm app $10.00/a ccFranks FlyingService Morrison, IL ryegrass and c. rye $8.00/a norm app $10.00/a ccReeds Fly-on yes, c. rye, small partFarming Mattoon, IL of business $8.00/a norm app $12.00/a ccKilliam Flying rye, wheat on beans, $8.00/a norm app $10.00/acService Carlinville, IL rye on corn or 10/lbCurless FlyingService Astoria, IL ryegrass and turnips $8-15.00/a all app.Klein Flying St. Francisville, ~$12.50/a cc,Service IL annual rye and turnips $9.00/a liquid appAgriflite Services Wakarusa, IN rye, wheat, ryegrass ave $15.00/a for cc app.Als Aerial $10-15.00/a ccSpraying Ovid, MI rye and wheat $10.00/a liquid
  51. Optimize fertility • Inoculate legumes • Inoculate non-legumes?• Fertilize cover crops when residual fertility is low
  52. 133 lbs of K/ac 52 lbs of Ca/ac Hairy Vetch 3,260 lbs of DM/ac 141 lbs of N/ac18 lbs of P/ac 18 lbs of Mg/ac
  53. +20 lbs N/a
  54. Learn from cover crop innovators • Attend field days/host a field day • Attend conferences • Participate in internet forums
  55. Field day at Steve Groff’s farm
  56. Subject Replies Views> 100 threads and > 200,000 views in 2011
  57. A Wheat-Corn-Bean rotation with "tillage" done via RADISHES (!!) into the wheat stubble every third year! All done with a single 60 ft 30" planter, RTK and one 60ft toolbar. Fertilizerefficiency is very good with banding, split application and no fall 8625 losses. views!! I came away from there thinking I have seen the future of production agriculture, at least in some areas. Sorry to go on so long but this was a very interesting day. The field of tillage radishes was incredible. The size of thosethings does really seem to break up the soil at least as deep as many tillage tools.
  58. Joe Rothermel’s new rig
  59. Cover crops planted with insecticide boxes while stripping
  60. Ralph “Junior” Upton Springerton, Illinois 1,800 acres of no-till corn, beans and wheat & annual ryegrass, cereal rye and hairy vetch cover crops Problem Addressed Difficult soil characteristics. Ralph “Junior” Upton farms poorly drained land characterized by an impenetrable layer, or “plow pan,” six to eight inches deep that crop roots typically can’t grow through.One day, in the mid-1980s, Upton got a magnified view of his soil’s limitations.While tearing out a fence, Upton noticed plenty of moisture in the soil aboutthree feet down. Above it sat a compacted layer of soil through which no rootswere growing. Upton had a visible confirmation of why, during dry years, theshallow-rooted crops dried up even though there was plenty of water stored inthe soil below. “I began looking for a way to break up that plow pan so my crops could get to the moisture they needed”
  61. ~ 120 profiles since 2008
  62. Learn from research On-farm research• Leave check strips - replicate if possible • Work with universities/NRCS Research station trials • Make suggestions • Pay attention to results
  63. Corn following cover crop experiment in 2011 Relative Cover crop system corn yield Volunteer oats 79% Radishes planted on 30” 99% Radishes drilled on 7.5” 91% Corn planted on radish rows
  64. Early July 2009 Organic No-till research at the Allison FarmSoybeans drilled after rolling 5’ tall cereal rye
  65. Early August 2009
  66. Early November 2009Plot yields ranged from 51.6 to 58.6 bu/ac No significant differences between NT, CT and bio-strip-till systems
  67. November 2011Have you considered this option for combating herbicide resistance!
  68. Soybean health experiment – 6 locations across IL November 2010 Mustard Rapeseed incorporated Canola pre-plant Cereal rye Cereal rye no-till Soybeans no-till drilled into cereal rye were the top yielder in 2011
  69. Beware of hype! Cover crops arenot a silver bullet solution to any problem!!!
  70. Be realistic aboutpotential CC challenges but optimistic about real opportunities