Save On Nitrogen Costs

Saving time and saving dollars are the major reasons cover crops have worked so well in no-till rotations for many Virginia growers.

Grow Own Nitrogen

Paul Davis is convinced he’ll eventually be able to meet all of his corn-crop nitrogen needs from the cover crops he seeds each fall. The New Kent, Va., no-tiller has been using cover crops for 6 years, and relied on cereal rye for several years before switching to hairy vetch on much of his acreage.

“One concern may be that the nitrogen from the cover crops may not be available early enough in the cropping season,” he says. “But I think we could still utilize all of the available nitrogen from our cover crops by the time we sidedress corn.”

Davis obtains 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen from the hairy-vetch cover crop, applies 40 to 50 pounds of nitrogen in starter fertilizer and sidedresses another 60 pounds of nitrogen to harvest 200-bushel corn yields. By no-tilling hairy vetch after full-season soybeans, Davis has dropped nitrogen sidedressing needs with corn from 120 pounds per acre to only 60 pounds.

“We don’t yet have a good answer as to how many pounds of nitrogen we need after a cover crop,” says Davis. “We tissue-test corn plants, along with the amount of biomass in the soil, to determine the precise amount of nitrogen needed for sidedressing. Our goal is to rely on the cover crop to boost soil organic matter and sequester carbon.”

Sense Nitrogen Needs

Davis…

To view the full article, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital and Premium subscribers. Please purchase a subscription to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives.
Lessiter_frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

Top Articles

Current Issue

NTF_July_0718_198w.jpg

No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings