Cover crops for organic field crops in MN


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Cover crops for organic field crops in MN

  1. 1. Cover cropsfor organic field cropping systems in MN Joel Gruver WIU- Agriculture (309) 298 1215
  2. 2. Almost500 miles! Macomb
  3. 3. Macomb IL Apr 21 Oct 11 180
  4. 4. 15.4% ↑
  5. 5. Historically, 10.6% ↑ than Saint Cloud 29% more GDD @ 40F
  6. 6. Very few opportunities for CC before or after corn and soybeans
  7. 7. Many more opportunities for CC after wheat, barley, oats, rye, peas…
  8. 8. small grains + warm season grasses + a. ryegrass + buckwheat + flax mustard + radish + rapeseed/canola + turnip alfalfa + clovers + vetch + peas + soybeans 6 mixtures of c. rye, a. ryegrass, c. clover, oats, radish, peas + vetch
  9. 9. Crop planted on 5/15 andharvested on 10/1
  10. 10. Crop planted on 4/15 andharvested on 8/15
  11. 11. MCCC website also provides links tolots of good extension publications
  12. 12. Lots of potential cover crop species are described in this publication
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. 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.
  15. 15. 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.
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. Forage kale Oats, turnips, annual ryegrass and wheatOats, turnips and cereal rye Mystery brassica
  18. 18. On farms with livestock, manyfailures can be turned into success!
  19. 19. 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.
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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
  23. 23. What is this CC? Phacelia
  24. 24. WIU Organic research farm – May 2012
  25. 25. Very denserooting at the soil surface
  26. 26. Mustard variety trial at the Allison farm in early June 2011 Pacific Gold Ida Gold Slower to mature Faster to mature More biomass Less biomass
  27. 27. JD 730 Air-Disk drill on Jack Erisman’s farm in Pana, IL Jack uses this rig to drill soybeans on 6" rows(~ 280,000/ac) while also dropping ~2 bushel of rye and some micronutrients
  28. 28. Zumbrun FarmNorthern Indiana
  29. 29. Drilling cover crops after small grain harvest
  30. 30. There are many options other than drilling
  31. 31. Magness Farm in Maryland
  32. 32. Slurry seeding
  33. 33. 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
  34. 34. Precision planting
  35. 35.
  36. 36. Insecticide boxes can be used for metering small seeds
  37. 37. Joe Rothermel’s new rig
  38. 38. Cover crops planted with insecticide boxes while stripping
  39. 39. September 2008
  40. 40. Attempt #3 Radish planted on 30” rows usingsmall milo plates in mid-August 2010
  41. 41. Corn following cover crop experiment (2011) Relative Cover crop system corn yield Volunteer oats 79% Radishes planted on 30” 99% Radishes drilled on 7.5” 91%Corn planted directly over radish rows
  42. 42. May 2012
  43. 43. Radish planted on 30” rows with RTK guidance on August 29th right before Hurricane Isaac rolled in
  44. 44. 4 days later
  45. 45. 7 days after planting
  46. 46. 10 days after planting
  47. 47. ~ 1 month later
  48. 48. Why are the inter-rows so clean?
  49. 49. We had just cultivated the radishes!
  50. 50. ~ 2 weeks later
  51. 51. December 2012We are planning to “freshen” the radish rowswith a Yetter strip till bar before planting corn directly over the radish rows
  52. 52. Precision radishes w/o peasPrecision planted radishes w/ peas from 5 ft of row
  53. 53. 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
  54. 54. Radishes in fall 2011 ~ 20 more bushels/a where we cultivated in the fall
  55. 55. Ridges withdead radish residues in spring 2011
  56. 56. Planting popcornon radish ridges in May 2011
  57. 57. Planted beautifullybut we decided to replant after amonth of relentless rain :-<
  58. 58. Fall 2011
  59. 59. Fall 2012
  60. 60. Crimson Chick clover peasGreen Favalentils beans
  61. 61. Sunflower OatsRapeseed Phacelia
  62. 62. We are trying to identify the best combinations of winter hardy and winter-kill CCs for row and inter-row positions
  63. 63. A little extra N can make a big difference +20 lbs N/a Radish biomass = 2X
  64. 64. Same planter pass5 buffer rows were not Preceded by spring preceded by a CC planted radish Most years the extra transpiration would probably have been helpful on this wet farm
  65. 65. Last summer, we undercut our small grain stubble using a no-till cultivator and a tractor with RTK guidance
  66. 66. Cover crop cocktailFallow strip no-till drilled after undercutting
  67. 67. Triple S mixSunflowers, Soybeans & Sunnhemp
  68. 68. Effective multi-tasking or cover crop chaos???
  69. 69.
  70. 70. Planting into poorly digested red clover residues 25-50% stand loss Near perfect stands in all other corn plots on the farm this past spring
  71. 71. Annual ryegrass after chisel plowing Chisel plowing made the next pass with a rotavator easier and more effective
  72. 72. No-till drilling soybeans into standing rye Early June 2011
  73. 73. 15’ wide roller built by a local farmer
  74. 74. Mid-June 2011Rolled after drilling
  75. 75. Early July 2011
  76. 76. Our conventional-till beans are looking good, right?
  77. 77. August 2011
  78. 78. November 2011The NT bean plots yielded~10 bu more than the best tillage system plots
  79. 79. April 2012In our experience, a strong stand of rye is critical
  80. 80. Planting into 5-6’ tall rye on May 11
  81. 81. Double drilled with 4” offset
  82. 82. June 2012
  83. 83. All of July :-<
  84. 84. 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
  85. 85. CCs affect many agronomic factors simultaneously Control erosion Feed livestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  86. 86. 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)
  87. 87. Greater precision in your covercropping practices will increase the likelihood of intended outcomes More positive and fewer negative effects
  88. 88. I wish you all success in 2013!