Intercropping Can Work

AT LAST MONTH’S seventh National No-Tillage Conference in St. Louis, there was considerable interest in the soybean intercropping program used by no-tillers Keith and Doug Thompson of Osage City, Kan. With this unique doublecropping program they intercrop soybeans into standing wheat in early April.

While we’ll provide more details in an upcoming issue, there’s also extensive work being done in Wisconsin on intercropping no-till corn into herbicide-treated kura clover. The intent is to have the clover recover to full production the following year. This system will be of special interest to dairy farmers facing serious soil erosion problems with alfalfa and corn rotations, especially in hilly areas.

“Problems with soil loss occur when farmers prepare fields for planting either corn or alfalfa,” says University of Wisconsin agronomist Ken Albrecht. “Once the alfalfa becomes established, the soil is protected far better than at any other time during the alfalfa and corn rotation.”

Living Mulches

While other researchers had tried alfalfa as a living mulch with corn and failed, Albrecht and Robert Zemenchik thought kura clover might be successful. It lives longer than alfalfa, spreads rapidly from rhizomes, survives harsh winters, makes excellent feed and yields 80 percent of a good alfalfa crop.

The agronomists no-tiled corn into kura clover established two and three years earlier. To make sure the kura clover wouldn’t provide too much competition for the corn, the researchers used Roundup to suppress the clover, to kill a 24-inch band or to kill the clover entirely.

“In general, grain…

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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.

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