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Bill Mitchell, a retired University of Delaware agronomist now living in New Hampshire, praises the nitrogen-producing qualities of hairy vetch as a no-till cover crop. After doing extensive research on hairy vetch, he believes it provides a 100-pound nitrogen credit per acre to the following crop and is suitable for corn.
“It worked very well in no-till,” he says. “You could fly it on while the corn was growing and let it continue as the cover crop, knock it down in the spring and plant into the stubble.”
Ron Mulford, manager of the University of Maryland’s Poplar Hill research station near Salisbury, also favors a hairy vetch cover crop.
Mulford has had a field at Poplar Hill that has been in continuous corn since 1981.
The yields were declining until 1993, when Mulford put in a hairy vetch cover crop. The yields started to increase immediately, he says, and have maintained their higher production. He credits the use of the hairy vetch cover crop for the improvement.