Randy McElroy sees the tough soils sometimes from behind sunglasses, because when the ground dries out completely it can be a white as a sand beach in Florida.
These are the types of soils that McElroy, a technology development representative with Monsanto, has to contend with while conducting his cover crop research in southern Illinois.
Knowing these tougher soils are what cause no-tillers to lose the most sleep, McElroy shares some tips on using cover crops and other practices to improve those areas and increase crop yields.
McElroy’s research has focused on two farm sites — one located near Farina, Ill., and the Henry White Research Farm outside of Millstadt. The Farina farm involves 35 acres of plots, while the Henry White Farm offers 20 acres of land devoted to a variety of projects.
The Farina site features a Cisne/Hoyleton silt loam soil, while the Henry White Farm is predominantly Herrick silt loam. What they have in common is they’re poorly drained or surface-drained soils, McElroy notes.
McElroy characterizes his soils as tough for many reasons, such as containing less than 2% organic matter, having excessive surface drainage, inadequate internal drainage and lower cation exchange capacities (CECs).
The fields may have some varying slopes or…