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Cashing in with Cover Forages Between No-Till Wheat Crops

Oklahoma no-tiller squeezes in a profitable late-summer, early-fall grazing period on cover crops he sows immediately behind his combine. The practice adds $100-150 per acre in cattle gains.

Northwestern Oklahoma no-tiller Jimmy Emmons quit plowing 10 years ago to begin rebuilding his soils and says by adding diverse cover crop mixes to his operation over the same period he’s cut his farm’s overall purchased fertilizer use by 85%.

In addition to reducing inputs, he’s also banking $100-150 per acre between small grain crops by following the combine in June with a multi-species warm-season cover crop mix for late-summer and early-fall grazing. 

Emmons and his wife, Ginger, run a diversified farming and cow-calf operation near Leedey, Okla., about 40 miles south of the Oklahoma Panhandle and about 30 miles east of the Texas/Oklahoma line.

“In a semi-arid environment like ours, it’s more challenging to do cover crop systems but it’s our goal to have something growing on the land 365 days a year, if at all possible,” he explains.

A self-described “recovering tillage addict,” Emmons says his inspiration to adopt regenerative agricultural practices came at a National Association of Conservation Districts presentation by long-time Ohio no-tiller David Brandt.

Check The Specs...

NAME: Jimmy Emmons

LOCATION: Leedy, Okla.

ACRES: 2,000 no-till cropland; 6,000 rangeland

YEARS NO-TILLING: 10

CROPS: Wheat, rye, barley, grain sorghum, sesame, canola, peas, soybeans, corn, mung beans, triticale, sweet clover, oats, spring barley

ANNUAL PRECIPITATION: 25 inches

PRIMARY SOIL TYPE: Mollisol

IRRIGATION: Two center-pivot sprinklers along the river

LIVESTOCK: 250-300 cows

“He really inspired me with what we could do and how we could change our soils,” Emmons explains. “I grew up in a full tillage system…

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Dan crummett 0618

Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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