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Now Is The Time to Get Your Cover Crops!
Bottom line: cover crops can help keep soil healthy, productive and sustainable. When it comes to choosing the best cover crop seeds for your fields, where do you start? Here, some tips for planning your fall cover crop program.
1. Performance over price Just like you purchase seed corn, soybeans, and other cash crop seed, buy cover crop seeds on value with proven genetics that produce the traits and benefits you need. Avoid buying on price!
2. Spread risk Follow fundamentals of cash crop establishment and plant as soon as possible after harvest or prior to harvest. Plant for diversity, or with multi-specie blends, to lessen weather risks, break pest cycles and prevent erosion that some monoculture species are vulnerable to.
3. Use test plots A cover crop test plot is the best way to really know how cover crops work for you. Have a check strip adjacent to test plots to show a comparison to help determine benefits.
4. Plan ahead It's simple: improved cover crops equal improved cash crops! Be prepared. Know your planting window. Have your seed available, equipment calibrated, and your workers prepared to plant.
5. On-farm testing & research Collaborate with others, including Cover Crop Solutions, to replicate field scale research testing to give credible data for the real world. Host a field day to demonstrate what could work best in your area.
6. Follow a plan Be strategic in determining which species to plant in front of the next cash crop. Generally legumes before corn, and grasses before beans. Tillage Radish® and TillageMax Blends can be planted before both. Consider adding wheat on a few acres or short season corn or soybeans to expand planting window opportunities.
7. Record keeping As with cash crops, keep records of cover crop planting dates, seeding rates, and other vital details. Incorporate info into your crop management programs: crop consulting, conservation plans, fertility, soil and yield testing, moisture and nutrient data. Make comparisons of soil quality, harvestability, and other issues.
8. Spread out harvest Make more of your fields available for cover cropping. Consider planting short season hybrids and varieties, planting wheat, or including grazing in your rotation.
9. Fertility management Legumes can add nitrogen while Tillage RootMax™ Deep Root Annual Ryegrass and Tillage Radish® can keep nitrogen from leaching into tile lines and groundwater. These cover crops can be tools for nutrient management and for increasing soil biological activity.
10. Utilize your best resources Seek knowledgeable Cover Crop Solutions seed dealers, university extension teams, NRCS personnel and websites providing creditable cover crop info. Challenge yourself, your team and the next generation in finding ways to incorporate cover cropping into your operation!
Need some Planting Tips?
Find tested, precise info for planting cover crop seeds straight from the experts at Cover Crop Solutions.