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Attica, Ind., no-tiller Dan DeSutter is always looking for ways to improve his cover-crop system. We visited him in the spring of 2016 when he was rolling/crimping his cover crops and planting soybeans.
To learn about DeSutter's operation, check out the What I've Learned from No-Tilling article: Rejuvenating Acres and Ramping Up Soil Productivity.
The increased application of herbicides with soil residual activity in corn and soybean production has complicated fall establishment of cover crops. Initially, the concern focused on the emergence and early vigor of cover crop stands, but has more recently been implicated by some individuals as contributing to a decrease in winter survival. As farmers explore methods for seeding cover crops even earlier in the fall or possibly inter-seeded with corn, the issue of herbicide carryover becomes an even more critical issue, says Bryan Young. The Purdue University weed scientist shares how we can make educated estimates of which herbicide and cover-crop combinations may be the most detrimental, but trial and error will prove to be the only reliable method of gaining local experience that directly relates to your farm operation.View
Increased water infiltration, less erosion, cleaner water and improved overall health of cash crops are just a few benefits Darin Williams has witnessed since adding cover crops to his 2,000-acre no-till operation in east central Kansas. Williams discusses these benefits and several more, including how cover crops have reduced his weed population and chemical inputs and allowed his non-GMO crops to do just as well as GMOs. He also shares how adding livestock to the operation has maximized his investment in cover crops, as well as his experience in marketing cover crop seed to seed companies.View
Jim Hershey challenges you to consider planting before you terminate your high-value cover crop in the spring. The Elizabethtown, Pa., no-tiller and president of the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance has been practicing the “planting green” system on his corn, soybean, wheat and livestock operation using multispecies cover crops with great success. Hershey shares his experiences with this system and how it’s reduced his slug pressure to nothing. He also talks about the cover crop interseeder that was built on his farm and what he’s seen from it.View
Darin Williams wishes he had known about no-till and grazing cover crops when he decided to go into home building after college because he didn’t think he’d make it as a farmer in his community. But since he took up farming in 2010, Williams has been able to grow his no-till operation to 2,000 acres of non-GMO corn, soybeans, wheat, rye, triticale, winter barley and milo, and grazes his cattle herd on cover crops to maximize their investment. Williams also has a flock of sheep and recently added poultry. Considering organic matter to be king on his farm, the Waverly, Kan., no-tiller discusses the components that make up his no-till system, including why he tries to direct-market everything produced to consumers and how he marketed his grain for premiums in 2015.View
Lucas Criswell and Gerard Troisi are convinced that corn and soybeans can be no-tilled into mature cover crops for higher yields and increased soil health, even while reducing fertilizer and herbicide applications.View
Steve Groff has more than 30 years experience covering fields on his no-till farm in southern Pennsylvania. He’ll share his best tips for making cover crops more practical on your farm, including ways to get them planted in a timely manner, how they interact with nutrients in your soils, rotational decisions and other key discoveries through proven, field-tested practices and onfarm research.View
Ken Olson will share results of a 12-year cover crops study in southern Illinois on the effects of soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration, storage and retention, as well as corn and soybean yields. The use of cover crops was studied on these previously eroded soils for its maintenance and restoration of SOC, and different tillage systems were set up with and without cover crops.View
Long-term studies show soil compaction reduces yields by 30%. Jim Hoorman says poor soil structure and compaction are common, especially where conventional tillage has been used extensively, but even no-tillers often see little improvement or slow gains in soil structure.View