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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cover Crops

The time is drawing near to have seed bought and to be ready for planting cover crops.  June Prairie Farmer Devoted a good deal of print to the topic.  Building better soil is the cover story about a Marion Illinois farm.  The second story, Digging into the Organic Matter debate covers the issue of how we measure organic matter.  Dr. Ken Olson tried to start the debate a number of years ago, but has only recently gotten coverage on the issue.  I am proud to say that I shared Dr Olson's proposed  protocols for measuring organic matter in no-till and cover crop situations right here last year.  The issue also contains tips from the experts including The Dahmers from Marion.  Be sure and read all the sidebars too.  Josh Flint sums it all up a few pages later looking at the surprisingly controversial topic

My advice on cover crops would be:
  • Start small
  • Plant cover crops on  your worst soils
  • Use No-till or very reduced tillage
  • Read as much as you can
  • Set a baseline on your own farm.  
  • Start with a Soil Health Test 
  • Expect to make mistakes

1 comment:

Ed Winkle said...

Good job, David. A key for me is to plant something every time I harvest. When the combine starts up, the drill is loaded and I always have an extra guy who loves to farm like I do to run the drill or combine. We just took a good wheat crop off and chased the combine with a drill full of double crop soybeans which may be a cover crop this year. Where I bush hogged, a mix of a grass seed like the wheat I just harvested and or oats or rye plus a couple of pounds of radish, sunnhemp, clovers etc go in. I try to keep it cheap but diversified.