Cover crops for corn/soybean rotations

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I shared this presentation on 2/3 at the 17th annual W IL and NE MO no-till conference in Quincy IL.

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Cover crops for corn/soybean rotations

  1. 1. Why cover crops?
  2. 2. Erosion continues to be a serious issue in W Illinois and NE Missouri (#s = % of sample points) County < 1 *T 1-2*T > 2*T Adams 85 12 3 These Brown 75 17 8 Hancock 91 6 fields 3 Henderson 91 7 need 2 McDonough 85 12 more 3 Pike 70 18 green! 11 Schuyler 83 13 4 http://www.agr.state.il.us/darts/References/transect/transect06.pdf T = tolerable level of erosion according to NRCS (traditional but controversial concept)
  3. 3. How many extreme precipitation events has your farmexperienced in the last 3 years? How much erosion occurred during these events on your farm?
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. Farmers know that cover crops control erosion CTIC survey of 809 Corn Belt farmers in 2010
  6. 6. Farmers also know that improved drainage improves yields (and reduces erosion) Yield maps have made drainage problems more obvious
  7. 7. Impact of Ag DrainageMore infiltration = less run-off = less erosion …and more loss of some nutrients and ag chemicals H2O Gulf of Mexico
  8. 8. Western ILcontains a lot of soils thatare naturally prone to nitrate leaching
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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?
  12. 12. Are you familiar with the term Precision Conservation?
  13. 13. Haphazardcover cropping
  14. 14. What am Isupposed to do now?
  15. 15. Very common question received by CC seed vendors in early fall“What covercrop should I plant ???”
  16. 16. Well… what do you want your covercrop to do for you?
  17. 17. Cover crops are not the missing puzzle piece(s) in your current cropping systems!
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. Crop planted on May 15and harvested on October 1
  20. 20. 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 corn/bean grain harvest
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. Forage kale Oats, turnips, annual ryegrass and wheatOats, turnips and cereal rye Mystery brassica
  23. 23. OATS & PEASSpring Planted/Summer grazing
  24. 24. Have you used any forage brassicas as cover crops? Hunter
  25. 25. 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.
  26. 26. Performance over Price• Buy CC seed on value not price Cover crop seed price survey from 2010 ($/lb) Vendor Cereal rye Annual Hairy vetch Medium red ryegrass clover WI 0.188 0.52 (0.69) 1.60 (1.98) 1.22 (1.62) IL1 0.147 (0.179) 0.47 (0.63) 1.42 (1.65) MN 0.153 (0.171) 0.50 (0.56) 1.70 (1.90) 1.66 (1.84) NE1 0.157 (0.179) 0.55 (0.65) 2.10 (2.50) 1.65 (1.95) IL2 (0.213) (0.75) (2.20) (2.60) IL3 0.188 (0.214) (0.70) MO 0.197 0.46 1.47 1.21 IL4 (0.20) (0.60) (1.80) (1.75) IA (0.195) (0.62) (2.00) 2.00 IN (0.239) (0.75) (2.20)(IL farmer) 0.125 0.48 1.05
  27. 27. The cheapest seed available is frequently VNS – variety not statedDo you know the difference between “variety name” and “brand name”? How important is uniform seed size and vigor to you?
  28. 28. How much is good technical support worth to you?
  29. 29. 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 • Irrigate
  30. 30. Traditional cover cropping in the Midwest The most tried and true cover cropping system in the Midwest region Frost seeded red clover
  31. 31. There are lots of options after small grain harvest
  32. 32. Does your county look like this? corn soy
  33. 33. Corn, Soybean and Wheat acres in Western IL (Adams, Brown, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Schuyler and Warren) 1400000 1200000 1000000Acres 800000 Corn Soy 600000 wheat 400000 200000 0 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
  34. 34. Drilling CC after corn/bean harvest is a good option for a limited # of acres!
  35. 35. There are many options other than drilling
  36. 36. Annual ryegrass & radishes aerial seeded into soybeans at leaf drop.Aerial seeding is fast and relatively cheap but more sensitive to weather
  37. 37. Set-up for efficient aerial seeding in SE IASteve Nebel
  38. 38. SteveNebel
  39. 39. Steve Nebel
  40. 40. 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
  41. 41. Seeding cover cropswith liquid manure
  42. 42. Cover crop seeding while harvesting
  43. 43. Effective multi-tasking or cover crop chaos???
  44. 44. http://www.greencoverseed.com/
  45. 45. http://www.btny.purdue.edu/WeedScience/2011/CoverCrops11.html Cover Crops and Corn and Soybean Herbicides
  46. 46. Beware of hype! Cover crops are not asilver bullet solution to any problem
  47. 47. The rock star of covercrops!!!
  48. 48. With lots of space, moisture, fertility and time to grow, individual radishes can get huge! but a good stand of 1” radishes will probably do more for your soil!
  49. 49. control Ohio State UniversityTillageRadish®plots Soil compaction decreased by >40%
  50. 50. Crop root density as affected by previous cover crop Chen and Weil (2006)
  51. 51. Roots at ~ 40” after 45 days
  52. 52. 4’
  53. 53. 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
  54. 54. 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”
  55. 55. Learn from cover crop innovators • Attend field days/host a field day • Attend conferences • Participate in internet forums
  56. 56. Field day at Steve Groff’s farm
  57. 57. What is innovation?? $ VS This type of innovationmust be used on millions Home grown innovationof acres to pay for R&D that fits your acres
  58. 58. Are you an early adopter? adopt ≠ adapt Are you a master adapter?Farmers that make cover crops work tend to be master adapters!
  59. 59. ~ 120 profiles since 2008
  60. 60. Read about CCs in on-line forums
  61. 61. Subject Replies Views> 100 threads and > 200,000 views in 2011
  62. 62. Use precision planting
  63. 63. Bio-strip till September 2008
  64. 64. Attempt #3Radish planted on 30” rows using milo plates in mid- August 2010
  65. 65. “A Wheat-Corn-Bean rotation with "tillage" done via RADISHES (!!) into the wheat stubble every third year! All done with a single 60 ft30" planter, RTK and one 60ft toolbar. Fertilizer efficiency is very good with banding, split application and no fall losses.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 those thingsdoes really seem to break up the soil at least as deep as many tillage tools. I think this may be the future for many folks and Joel, Steve, Ed and others: I am no longer a skeptic!”
  66. 66. 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.
  67. 67. 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
  68. 68. Keep good records – Date of planting – Seeding rates, drill settings… – Take lots of photos!
  69. 69. My computer is aboutto explode from cover crop overload :->
  70. 70. Optimize fertility • Inoculate legumes • Inoculate non-legumes?• Fertilize cover crops when residual fertility is low
  71. 71. Do all legumes add N to the soil? Soybean seeds often contain >25% more N than was fixed within their nodules
  72. 72. 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
  73. 73. 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
  74. 74. Cereal rye inter-seeded with soybean for in-row weed control at the Allison Farm No significant differences in yield between 20&40 lbs of rye in row vs. 60 lbs broadcast vs. control (all trt means > 40 bu/a) Cereal rye and several other CC species that requirevernalization will be planted over soybeans rows using the insecticide boxes on our planter in 2012
  75. 75. Joe Rothermel’s new rig
  76. 76. Cover crops planted with insecticide boxes while stripping
  77. 77. Wheat + radish trial at the Allison farm November 2010 3 lb/a = 2 lb/a = 1 lb/a > 0 lb/c ~ 2.5 bu/a yield boost
  78. 78. Annual ryegrass variety trial at the Allison farm November 2010Bruiser, Bounty and KB Royal had the most top growth
  79. 79. > 36”
  80. 80. Early July 2009 Organic No-till research at the Allison FarmSoybeans drilled after rolling 5’ tall cereal rye
  81. 81. Early August 2009
  82. 82. Early November 2009Plot yields ranged from 51.6 to 58.6 bu/ac No significant differences between NT, CT and bio-strip-till systems
  83. 83. November 2010 Significant foxtail pressure but almost no broadleaf weedsPlot yields ranged from 42-52 bu/ac
  84. 84. August 2011
  85. 85. November 2011Have you considered this option for combating herbicide resistance!
  86. 86. 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
  87. 87. Which potential benefits of CC are most important to you? Control Erosion Feed livestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  88. 88. Good advice from Steve Groff… TREAT YOUR COVER CROPSLIKE YOUR CASH CROPS!
  89. 89. Be realistic aboutpotential cover crop challenges
  90. 90. Start planning today for next fall! 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?

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