As strip-tillers search for efficient, economical ways to retain moisture and nutrients in their soils, an increasing number are turning to cover crops. Analysis of the 3rd Annual Strip-Till Operational Benchmark Study revealed another uptick in their use.
The number of farmers planting cover crops in strip-tilled fields topped 50% for the first time, and continued a steady increase during the last 3 years. The 2016 study showed that 53.3% of strip-tillers planted cover crops last year, up from 48.4% in 2014 and 44.1% from 2013.
While these figures don’t yet compare to the 72.7% of no-tillers who planted cover crops in 2015, according to No-Till Farmer’s 8th Annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study, it will be worth watching whether use among strip-tillers continues to increase.
For the second year, farmers were asked to identify which types of cover crops they’re seeding into strip-tilled fields. Once again, cereal rye was the most popular species, with 64.5% seeding this cover, up more than 4 percentage points from 2014.
Second most popular by a wide margin were radishes at 50.2%. However, this number was down by about 10 percentage points year-over-year. Also seeing a substantial decline was ryegrass, from 46.6% according to last year’s study, to 36.5% in 2015.
The biggest gain came in the percentage of strip-tillers using rapeseed, which jumped from 9.7% to 21.8%. Also seeing sizeable increases were buckwheat from 1.9% to 8.5% and barley from 1% to 6.2%.
New additions to the list this year were turnips, used by…