Timing, seeding method and rate are key considerations to integrating cover crops into a strip-till system. But another avenue to success is a willingness to experiment.
Strip-tilling since 2009 on his 1,300-acre operation in Blue Earth, Minn., Matt Alford began incorporating cover crops in 2013, testing different mixes and seeding options with the objective of measuring return on investment, both from an economical and biological standpoint.
“In 2018, we did an interseeding trial at V3 and V5 corn stages instead of spraying a post-application. I was spraying a pre-emerge residual herbicide and then coming back with early sidedress and interseeding a mix of annual rye, turnips, radish, rapeseed, buckwheat and cowpeas and not spraying a post at all,” he explains. “The theory was that the interseeded covers would outcompete any weeds that would be emerging after that time and I ended up $15.50 ahead in the field where we did that trial.”
During a classroom session at the 2019 National Strip-Tillage Conference, Aug. 1-2 in Peoria, Ill., Alford will share his bottom-line benefits of cover cropping to include reducing input costs, unlocking carryover nitrogen credits and the monetary benefit of using covers for natural weed control.
During a post-conference soil health workshop, “Seeing is Believing: A Visual Validation of Soil Health,” conference attendees will join former USDA soil scientist and founder of Wetland and Soil Consulting Services, Frank Gibbs, in at a nearby farm for a unique and eye-opening demonstration of soil health. Gibbs will conduct his famous “smoking tile” experiment which provides a visual analysis of soil structure, quality and earthworm activity. This workshop costs an additional $99 to attend. Attendees may sign up online or by calling (866) 839-8455 or (262) 432-0388.
The 6th annual National Strip-Tillage Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton East Peoria Riverfront Hotel & Conference Center and feature 2 days of strip-till education through an array of thought-provoking general sessions, strategy-packed strip-till classrooms and highly collaborative strip-till roundtable discussions.
For more information and to register for the conference, visit www.StripTillFarmer.com/NSTC.
Title sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for strip-tillers include AgroLiquid, Copperhead Ag, Dawn Equipment Co., Environmental Tillage Systems, Ingersoll, Kuhn Krause, Montag Mfg., Orthman Mfg., Schlagel Mfg., Topcon Agriculture, Vulcan Equipment and Yetter Mfg. Co. All 12 companies will exhibit during the 2-day educational event.
We’ll see you in Peoria!