The first impluse of many growers may be to plow under CRP ground when converting it back into cropland. While there is a dense network of fibrous material beneath the soil surface, what really gets the attention of producers is the “low-flying jungle” in plain view, says John Baker.
However, no-tilling into sod can be easy, the no-till researcher from New Zealand maintains. In working with the Cross Slot no-tillage system developed in his homeland, Baker says the original intent of the machine’s design was to find a way to successfully seed into sod.
“Sadly, the problem of physically handling the biomass often compromises the issue of making the best use of it,” Baker told attendees at the 16th annual National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati.
There are two main considerations when no-tilling crops directly into CRP, Baker says. You need to:
Cope with the jungle of grasses, weeds, legumes and possible pests without either blocking the machine or destroying all the good biological things that have happened to the soil while in CRP the past decade.
Create a biological environment that favors and protects the newly sown crop and harnesses the wonderful biological assets that 10 years of nonproduction will have so carefully created and nurtured.
Baker has outlined a number of principles for successfully no-tilling into sod, but it all begins with one thing not to do.
“The worst possible thing that can be done to CRP is to till it,” he says.
Here are Baker’s suggestions for effectively…