Should You No-Till Roundup Ready Soybeans As A Cover Crop?

No-tilling soybeans in August, these Ohio no-tillers are sold on the crop’s benefits as a cover crop.

When the hunters track across Jerry Lamp’s fields in November, they wonder why the no-till soybeans haven’t been combined. If they look closer, they’ll find there aren’t any beans or pods — only stems.

That’s because the Lancaster, Ohio, no-tiller utilizes Roundup Ready soybeans as a cover crop.

The practice produces several advantages — supplying nitrogen for the following corn crop, boosting corn yields by up to 28 bushels per acre and providing more effective weed control.

Lamp began covering the rolling farm that has as steep as 18 percent slopes with Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996. He’d previously tried typical cover crops such as Austrian peas, hairy vetch and crown vetch.

“Two out of three years we didn’t get good results,” says Lamp, who crops 3,100 acres with his dad, Wilber, brother, Tom and nephew, Richard.

August Soybean Seedings

The Roundup Ready soybeans no-till easily in mid-summer and provide a uniform stand. The legumes provide a mat, but don’t keep the soil from warming and drying in the spring as well as hairy vetch does when used as a cover crop.

Lamp also likes not having to beat the calendar to seed the soybeans following wheat harvest. “Hairy vetch was a difficult crop to establish and had a more critical planting date,” he explains.  

The Lamps use 30-foot John Deere 1560 no-till drills to drop 120,000 to 150,000 seeds per acre at a cost of about $18 per acre during the first 2 weeks of August. In soybeans not…

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