Cover Crops Boost No-Till Yields, Reduce Soybean Cyst Nematodes

Ray Rauenhorst has been aerial seeding winter rye amid his standing no-till corn as part of a research and demonstration project and has been pleased with the results.

Aerial seeding of winter rye into standing corn may reduce soybean cyst nematode populations and — at least on some soil types — boost yields by up to 4 bushels per acre.

Those findings have been the observations of Ray Rauenhorst as he enters the third season of a research and demonstration project on aerial seeding rye. Rauenhorst, who no-tills 1,080 acres of soybeans and corn near Easton, Minn., received assistance for his project from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Program.

Like a lot of agricultural research projects, Rauenhorst’s results change from year to year because variables like weather and soil temperature can’t be controlled. Yet Rauenhorst has seen a few consistent results even with those variables.

Flying On Cover Crops

When he began the experiment, he wondered if he would succeed with his aerial seeding project.

“Aerial seeding works super,” Rauenhorst says. “I seed 90 pounds per acre of winter rye during the first week of September into standing corn, and it takes off like a shot. It may be to my advantage that I’ve been no-tilling for years and there’s a fair amount on residue built up on the soil. I think the rye may have a better chance of getting started than if it was a clean, tilled black soil.”

Although yield improvements have been mixed, with some actual yield reductions, one area of the farm has seen consistent yield improvements.

“The most consistent improvement in yields seem to come on the poorest…

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