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Cover Cropping in Strip-Till Continues to Grow

Strip-tillers planting covers topped 60% for first time, with cereal rye being the most popular variety and drilling them the most popular method.

Cover crops started as somewhat of an enigma in strip-till, with farmers researching and testing the best mixes and seeding methods to achieve desired results. But the last few years have seen an explosion in the adoption and application of cover cropping in strip-till, as well as other conservation tillage systems. 

In just 4 years of tracking use of cover crops in strip-till systems, the practice has grown more than 17% to a high of 61.2% in 2016 as revealed through analysis of the 4th Annual Strip-Till Operational Benchmark Study.

The percentage of farmers planting cover crops in strip-tilled fields started at 44.1% in 2013, and had grown steadily each year, to 48.4% in 2014 and 53.3% in 2015. 

Strip-tillers’ incorporation of cover crops is trending on the same plane as no-tillers’ as reported by No-Till Farmer’s recent 9th Annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study. Some 77% of respondents to the no-till study said they utilized cover crops, an all-time high, and an increase for the fourth straight year.

For the third year in a row, cereal rye topped the list of the most popular cover crop species. Some 70.1% of benchmark respondents reported seeding cereal rye last year, compared to 65.5% in 2015 and 60.2% in 2014. 

After a 10-point dip from 2014 to 2015, radishes stabilized as the second most utilized cover crop, at 51.9% in 2016, followed by oats (34.7%). Rounding out the top 5 was annual ryegrass at 32.1%, which continued a downward trend in usage, dropping…

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Jack Zemlicka

Jack Zemlicka is the Technology Editor for No-Till Farmer. He covers precision farming practices, products and trends, which can improve efficiency and productivity for no-till farmers.

He joined Lessiter Publications Ag Division in 2012 and also serves as managing editor of Strip-Till Farmer.

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