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By Craig Askim/Extension Agent Mercer County
What is a cover crop?
Does it really matter?
Why do we have agriculture? How long will we need it? What does it take to raise crops and livestock?
  The North Dakota experience was difficult, expensive and unprofitable.
Background Information Mercer County – Beulah, ND Located about 80 miles northwest of Bismarck, ND Population, 8000 455 farms  Average size 1,200 acres  37,000 head of cattle Main farm income in county
Mercer County
Selecting the Best Cover Crop What is the goal? Break weed and insect cycles Planting sod crops Reduce amount of fertilizer Add organic matter Improve soil structure Reduce erosion Remove excess water
Factors to Consider Yield stability Economic return Equipment availability Registered pesticides and herbicides Impact on crop rotation Crop adaptation
More Factors to Consider Timing /Long term plan Current/Next year’s crop Current weed pressures Moisture conditions Past pesticide seed crop rotation restrictions
Pesticides of Concern Crops Wide –Match Dicamba Curtail Huskie Spartan CRP Breakout Tordon , Milestone, Plateau, Curtail
Purpose  Encourage the use of a variety of alternative forages for grazing and feed such as turnips, hairy vetch, triticale, winter rye, oats, and peas.  Promote prescribed grazing systems and diversity in no-till cropping systems.
Soil Armor Cover crops protect soil from damaging winds, water, and high temperatures.
Soil Temperatures Soil bacteria die at 140° F. 100% of moisture is lost due to evaporation and transpiration at 130° F. At 100° F. – 15% of the moisture is utilized for growth and 85% is lost to evaporation and transpiration At 70° F. nearly 100% of the moisture  is used for growth
Total Benefits Decrease inputs – long term Decrease weed competition Provides second crop – haying or grazing Increases soil health Increases organic matter
Adding Alternative Feed and Forage to Farminganching Operations Improve the native rangeland health and vigor by earlier removal of livestock Maintain a stable and desired plant community Enhance nutrient cycling through crop diversity Improve animal health and productivity Reduce soil erosion Improve soil condition for sustainability of the resource Increase soil organic matter Improve ground water quality and infiltration Minimize contained feeding duration
Resource Concerns Being Addressed Locally Pasture grazing rotation  Erosion  Crop & hayland health  Noxious weeds  Ag waste  Water quality  Education  Wildlife habitat  Soil quality ealth Wetland health
2007 Start-up Trials  Five sites  Simple forage mixtures  Three-way mixtures  Purpose:  Planned for haying or grazing
2007 – Trials  Journey Peas  70#/acre Everleaf Oats 30#/acre Hairy Vetch 10#/acre Seeding Date: 4-28-07 Purpose: Haying or Grazing
2008 – Trials  Nine Sites  More complex mixtures  Three to eight way mixtures  Cool season broadleaf Warm season broadleaf Warm season grass  Different seeding windows  Early Spring (April 1 – June 15) Summer  (June 15 – Aug 15) Fall (Aug. 15 – Sept. 20)
2008 Trials
2008 Trials
2008 Trials
Site # 6  Oats  16.0 lbs/ac  Winter Rye 12.0 lbs/ac  Millet 4.0 lbs/ac  Soybeans 4.5 lbs/ac  Turnips 0.8 lbs/ac Chicory 1.0 lbs/ac Seeded Date: June 27, 2008 Chicory  Turnip Oats and Winter Rye
COVER CROP – After Harvesting Turnips  2 lbs/acre Purpose Living root thru  growing season  Plant Diversity  Nutrient Cycling  Seeding Date  7-25-08
2009 Trials More of the same few changes Different cafeteria mixes Cowpea gave little benefit for the cost Turnips, winter rye, buckwheat, radishes show most potential Cafeteria mixes perform less than stand alone crops
Cover crop options for  row crops No clear answer Many options Interseed with row crops Corn, sunflowers Seeding legumes between rows adds nitrogen,  weed control, and water usage Black lentil, black medic, hairy vetch
Cover crop options for  small grains: Direct seed into stubble Seed legume with crop Use of bi-annual crops Sweet clover , red clover
Cover crop options for  grazing Type of Livestock Time of year Cover crop Following hay Following crop
Overall Factors to Consider Timing/Planning Pesticide use Cost
Summary Many factors to consider Using cover crops is working in North Dakota  Still many questions to address
Thank You! Craig Askim/Extension Agent Mercer County Craig Askim NDSU Extension Service Mercer County  1400 Hwy 49 N #103 Beulah, ND  58523 (701) 873-5195 [email_address]

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The Use of Cover Crops in Western North Dakota

  • 1. By Craig Askim/Extension Agent Mercer County
  • 2. What is a cover crop?
  • 3. Does it really matter?
  • 4. Why do we have agriculture? How long will we need it? What does it take to raise crops and livestock?
  • 5. The North Dakota experience was difficult, expensive and unprofitable.
  • 6. Background Information Mercer County – Beulah, ND Located about 80 miles northwest of Bismarck, ND Population, 8000 455 farms Average size 1,200 acres 37,000 head of cattle Main farm income in county
  • 8. Selecting the Best Cover Crop What is the goal? Break weed and insect cycles Planting sod crops Reduce amount of fertilizer Add organic matter Improve soil structure Reduce erosion Remove excess water
  • 9. Factors to Consider Yield stability Economic return Equipment availability Registered pesticides and herbicides Impact on crop rotation Crop adaptation
  • 10. More Factors to Consider Timing /Long term plan Current/Next year’s crop Current weed pressures Moisture conditions Past pesticide seed crop rotation restrictions
  • 11. Pesticides of Concern Crops Wide –Match Dicamba Curtail Huskie Spartan CRP Breakout Tordon , Milestone, Plateau, Curtail
  • 12. Purpose Encourage the use of a variety of alternative forages for grazing and feed such as turnips, hairy vetch, triticale, winter rye, oats, and peas. Promote prescribed grazing systems and diversity in no-till cropping systems.
  • 13. Soil Armor Cover crops protect soil from damaging winds, water, and high temperatures.
  • 14. Soil Temperatures Soil bacteria die at 140° F. 100% of moisture is lost due to evaporation and transpiration at 130° F. At 100° F. – 15% of the moisture is utilized for growth and 85% is lost to evaporation and transpiration At 70° F. nearly 100% of the moisture is used for growth
  • 15. Total Benefits Decrease inputs – long term Decrease weed competition Provides second crop – haying or grazing Increases soil health Increases organic matter
  • 16. Adding Alternative Feed and Forage to Farminganching Operations Improve the native rangeland health and vigor by earlier removal of livestock Maintain a stable and desired plant community Enhance nutrient cycling through crop diversity Improve animal health and productivity Reduce soil erosion Improve soil condition for sustainability of the resource Increase soil organic matter Improve ground water quality and infiltration Minimize contained feeding duration
  • 17. Resource Concerns Being Addressed Locally Pasture grazing rotation Erosion Crop & hayland health Noxious weeds Ag waste Water quality Education Wildlife habitat Soil quality ealth Wetland health
  • 18. 2007 Start-up Trials Five sites Simple forage mixtures Three-way mixtures Purpose: Planned for haying or grazing
  • 19. 2007 – Trials Journey Peas 70#/acre Everleaf Oats 30#/acre Hairy Vetch 10#/acre Seeding Date: 4-28-07 Purpose: Haying or Grazing
  • 20. 2008 – Trials Nine Sites More complex mixtures Three to eight way mixtures Cool season broadleaf Warm season broadleaf Warm season grass Different seeding windows Early Spring (April 1 – June 15) Summer (June 15 – Aug 15) Fall (Aug. 15 – Sept. 20)
  • 24. Site # 6 Oats 16.0 lbs/ac Winter Rye 12.0 lbs/ac Millet 4.0 lbs/ac Soybeans 4.5 lbs/ac Turnips 0.8 lbs/ac Chicory 1.0 lbs/ac Seeded Date: June 27, 2008 Chicory Turnip Oats and Winter Rye
  • 25. COVER CROP – After Harvesting Turnips 2 lbs/acre Purpose Living root thru growing season Plant Diversity Nutrient Cycling Seeding Date 7-25-08
  • 26. 2009 Trials More of the same few changes Different cafeteria mixes Cowpea gave little benefit for the cost Turnips, winter rye, buckwheat, radishes show most potential Cafeteria mixes perform less than stand alone crops
  • 27. Cover crop options for row crops No clear answer Many options Interseed with row crops Corn, sunflowers Seeding legumes between rows adds nitrogen, weed control, and water usage Black lentil, black medic, hairy vetch
  • 28. Cover crop options for small grains: Direct seed into stubble Seed legume with crop Use of bi-annual crops Sweet clover , red clover
  • 29. Cover crop options for grazing Type of Livestock Time of year Cover crop Following hay Following crop
  • 30. Overall Factors to Consider Timing/Planning Pesticide use Cost
  • 31. Summary Many factors to consider Using cover crops is working in North Dakota Still many questions to address
  • 32. Thank You! Craig Askim/Extension Agent Mercer County Craig Askim NDSU Extension Service Mercer County 1400 Hwy 49 N #103 Beulah, ND 58523 (701) 873-5195 [email_address]