Green_2.jpg

The Next Step in No-Till: Planting into Living Covers

Pennsylvania no-tillers Lucas Criswell and Jim Hershey extend and advance the benefits of cover crops by planting directly into them.


BIG COVERS. When Lucas Criswell started no-till planting into living cover crops, the covers were about 15 inches tall. Today, he plants into covers that grow to 3 or 4 feet high, saying they’re the key to protecting the soil from erosion and building soil health.


If no-till isn’t enough to stop erosion, what is?

Lucas Criswell believes the answer is big cover crops.

The Lewisburg, Pa., no-tiller does some custom application work for other growers and still sees erosion occurring on long-term no-till fields — even fields that grow short cover crops in the hilly region of central Pennsylvania.

But on Criswell’s farm, where he plants into cover crops that are as tall as his waist, he doesn’t see any erosion anymore.

Criswell recalls a 5-inch-rain that fell in an hour and a half in 2014. It cut a 3-foot-deep trench in his lawn, and he was afraid to see the condition of his fields.

In a field where he had just soybean stubble, which he intentionally left that way for a side-by-side, he saw the residue move. But on the field where he had rolled rye, it stayed in place — protecting the soil between the corn rows.

“That was another a-ha moment for me,” he says.

Erosion control isn’t the only benefit to no-tilling cash crops into living cover crops. Gerard Troisi, Criswell’s crop consultant, says that doing this allows them to continue capturing energy, which creates a bigger root system and allows them to store that…

To view the full article, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.
Laura-allen_c

Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

Top Articles

Current Issue

NTF_October_1018_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