MCCC website also provides links tolots of good extension publications
Lots of potential cover crop species are described in this publication
Wisconsin data suggest that approximately 70% of whole-plant N will become available in the first yearfollowing clover, most released before corn begins its period of rapid uptake.
Usually, the best conditions for frost seeding occur in mid to late March. Low overnight temperatures cause the surface to freezeand crack. Warm daytime temperatures thaw the surface, sealing the cracks. If daytime thawing occurs, the daily “window” for seeding lasts only a few hours, beginning at dawn. With subfreezing daytime temperatures, seeding can occur anytimeduring the day. Seed can be broadcast until mid-April if cracks are present and the traditional frost-seeding window is missed.
Gary Sommers’ farm in Clinton, Wisconsin, is just down the road from his boyhoodhome. He grows corn, soybeans, and winter wheat on 1,475 of his 1,500 acres. Theremaining 25 acres are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.Gary mainly uses cover crops on his steeper fields. Usually he sows cover crops—including buckwheat, soybeans, oats, and Berseem clover—after harvesting winterwheat in mid-July. The following spring he plants these fields to corn. Cover cropswhich do not winter-kill are terminated in the fall to prevent corn planting delays.
Match CC objectives with species Grazing GRAZING = #1 way to make cover crops pay! brassicas, clovers, alfalfa, small grains, annual ryegrass, sorghum-sudan Nutrient scavenging/cycling brassicas, small grains, annual ryegrass Bio-drilling brassicas, annual ryegrass, 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
Forage kale Oats, turnips, annual ryegrass and wheatOats, turnips and cereal rye Mystery brassica
On farms with livestock, manyfailures can be turned into success!
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.
Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual provides anin-depth review of the applications of crop rotation-including improving soil quality and health,and managing pests, diseases, and weeds. Consulting with expertorganic farmers, the authors share rotation strategies that can be applied under various field conditions and with a wide range of crops. Crop Rotation on Organic Farms is most applicable to farms in the Northeastern United States andEastern Canada but is worth a look
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
When can you plant CCs? • Dormant seeding early or late winter • Frost seeding • In the spring • In the spring w/ cash crop • Prevent plant scenarios • At last cultivation • 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 long season crops
What is PRECISION COVER CROPPING?? 1) Planting of cover crops with a precision planter2) strategic placement of cover crop rows in relationto other cover cover rows and/or the following cash crop rows (often using GPS guidance) 3) Strategic placement of cover crops in specific fields or parts of fields 4) Selection and management of cover crops to achieve specific objectives
December 2012We are planning to “freshen” the radish rowswith a Yetter strip till bar before planting corn directly over the radish rows
Precision radishes w/o peasPrecision planted radishes w/ peas from 5 ft of row
What is the optimal seeding rate for precision planted radishes? 4-6 seeds per foot is probably often thebest ROI but ~16 seeds per foot produced the most biomass for us this fall higher is probably better the later you plant
Radishes in fall 2011 ~ 20 more bushels/a where we cultivated in the fall
Ridges withdead radish residues in spring 2011
Our 2012 NT bean yields ranged from ~ 30 to ~ 60 bu/a Wet hole yielded very well Better drained areas of the field yielded poorly
CCs affect many agronomic factors simultaneously Control erosion Feed livestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
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)
Greater precision in your covercropping practices will increase the likelihood of intended outcomes More positive and fewer negative effects