CCS Group

Valuable Tips For Continued Cover Crop Innovation

With the combinations and benefits constantly evolving, cover crops are showing more promise than ever to boost soil health and improve the bottom line for no-tillers.

Whether it’s boosting soil organic matter, improving water infiltration, reducing compaction or fixing nitrogen, it’s more clear than ever that cover crops are at the center of discussion when it comes to progressive no-tilling.

No-tillers, agronomists and other farm stakeholders braved chilly, rainy conditions during the 19th annual Cover Crop and Soil Health Field Days at Cedar Meadow Farm to learn how cover crops can improve farm ground and benefit a no-tiller’s bottom line.

Here are some highlights that No-Till Farmer editors collected while attending the two-day event at Cover Crop Solutions’ research farm in Holtwood, Pa.

Try Short-Season Corn. Research at Cedar Meadow Farm continues to show promise for planting short-season corn hybrids that allow cover crops more time to get established in cooler climates.

Last year, a handful of different hybrids were planted with maturities ranging from 83 to 111 days. In 2012, short-season corn yielded an average of 182 bushels per acre across five fields, while mid-season corn averaged 167 bushels, and full-season averaged 175.2 bushels.

Each hybrid was harvested at the appropriate grain moisture for sale and a cover-crop mix was drilled after harvest. The covers were terminated last spring and the entire field was planted with a single corn hybrid, but with short-, mid- and full-season maturities.

This year, both the short- and mid-season corn — harvested at 19.28% to 20.76% moisture — showed average yields of 183 bushels per acre, while the full-season corn yielded 175 bushels at 21.9% moisture. Harvest dates were between…

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John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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