9 Growers Spill Their Secrets for Planting into Cover Crops

From tall, living covers to a heavy surface residue, no-tillers share how they adjust their planters and spring programs to work with cover crops.

Crop prices may be down, but that isn’t stopping no-tillers from using cover crops. In fact, more no-tillers are seeding them than ever before — No-Till Farmer’s 2016 No-Till Operational Benchmark Study found a record 77% of survey respondents seeded covers last year (see page 42), making 2016 the fifth consecutive year where the number increased.

The survey also found that cereal rye was the No. 1 seeded cover crop, with 62% of no-tillers growing the species.

As more no-tillers implement this practice and seed species that are still thriving in the spring, they may need to tweak their planting practices so their cash crops successfully emerge from the biomass of covers that remain.

We asked no-tillers who have been planting into cover crops — dead or alive — what adjustments they’ve made to their planter, challenges they’ve run into and how they overcame them, and other considerations for no-tillers who are just trying this practice for the first time.

Fewer Challenges From Planting Green

There are very few challenges we’ve faced with planting green into cover crops — in fact, we’ve had fewer challenges since planting green. We’ve completely eliminated our slug pressure and we’re able to hold moisture longer into the growing season.

We currently use a Case IH 1240 planter set up with Dawn ZRX rollers and smooth row cleaners. We apply starter fertilizer in-furrow through the planter and dribble liquid nitrogen on top of the ground behind the press wheel. We also have Precision Planting’s PrecisionMeters…

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Laura allen

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.

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