How many producers use covercrops and if you do what is your primary purpose?
We use a various mixes for weed suppression, nutrient management, erosion control, and overall soil health. Haven’t been doing it very long, so we are still figuring things out.
We are using fall rye Between crops for Erosion control mainly, especially after soybeans. We are comfortable to put beans on some slopes with the no-til and rye that we would never have done with no-til alone. Carbon sequestration and soil health are a couple others.
Do you use any cover crops and why?
I've been using covers since 2008 for primary the same reasons. I've had good luck with ARG. Crimson clover, and radishes before soybeans and mixed results using cereal rye after soybeans and before corn. Last year I flew rape
cereal rye and crimson clover on standing corn in August and the same mix in mid September on beans as they where beginning to turn. Both those combinations worked fairly well.
What kind of results do you get from aerial seeding on standing corn? We were thinking of doing this, but were afraid the majority of the seed would get caught in the whirls of the corn and not germ.
By the time it goes thru the head it pretty much beats the seed out. Guys have been having great results and even cut back a 1/2 bushel and couldn't see a difference. Around here they start end of August having it flown on. I can get some pictures and post them on here later.
I’ve been flying cereal rye, wheat and/or triticale (whatever I can get cheapest)for 5 years. Worked great every year but one and that year we had almost no rain to get it up and going. It will all be up before I combine I’ve never noticed it the seed getting hung up in the plants.
Been putting winter rye on my grain stubble for 2 years and planting soybeans into standing rye in the spring. Been working great, its been my best yielding beans.
This fall I had a 1/4 that was half corn and half soybeans. Going to plant the whole 1/4 to soybeans in '21. Spread 50# rye by air at the end of August. Emerged great in the soybeans, but its thin in the corn. Harvesting this years bean was like combining a pasture, I didn't til it, letting the rye grow, we will see. In the corn, I ran a Salford over the stalks to size up the residue, it didn't seem to hurt the rye that was growing, we will see how that one turns out next spring.
I've been trying it for many reasons...
- increase humus levels
- worm activity it increasing
- dryer soil in the spring
- always have ground cover, less erosion
- everyone told me 'it won't work here', so i had to try
***. Great comments and I echo your thoughts. We are in South Central Minnesota and I first tried it to prove to proponents from points further south but it wouldn’t work for us as far north. We seed cereal right after harvest right into frozen ground if necessary. No fall growth, but we usually end up with a good stand two seed corn or soybeans into the spring. Primarily targeting rolling ground next to rivers that have higher soil health needs, but more recently enjoying success and flat black 5+ percent organic matter farms. Every year is different every year is a steep learning curve. Not sure that I can measure a one-year payback, but I’m convinced it’s the right thing from a systems approach.
Thanks ***, all of my farm land is in west central MN, near the SD, ND border. I have wondered about seeding so late that it isn't going to sprout, and have had guys ask when is too late. Are you drilling or applying by air when the ground is froze? And what rate?
Also, curious how you are planting corn into rye? Any health, insect problems? We plant our corn as soon as the ground is warm, dry enough to plant. I don't know if the rye would even get growing yet at that point.
I've been told the same thing from producers who won't even try notill beans. Thanks for your detailed comments.
This is 10# of ARG, 6 # of tillage radishes, and 12# of crimson clover flown on in 40 ft center on 8/24. This picture was taken about 1 month later
Looks good. Thanks! We will have to look into this for next year.
****** any problems terminating that mix?
Not with 2 lbs of Glysophate and a full pint of 2-4-D. The night before temperature has to be above 40 degrees as well as the night following application. Don't allow any triazine in the mix. You can add Metalachor or Acetachlor and dicamba if you like for some residual. The main thing is to remember ARG is like killing perennials.
Played with covers for about 10yrs now. Still learning!!!!!! I have found arg,rapeseed and some cereal rye mix works excellent for beans on black river bottom gumbo. Did my first mix for corn this yr vetch, crimson and fixation clover, cereal rye and rapeseed. Rolled it (not crimped) right in front of planter. Worked great. Still need harvest the corn so verdict is still out! Also planted some corn in cereal rye and corn wasn't that good. 60units Preplant N got tied up in the rye. Only sidedressed 145units. Like I said still learning! Would I do it again most certainly.
This was our first year for both no-till and planting green. Like you, we are learning. We had similar results with our corn, planting into c-rye, vetch, clover, and radish. We had a couple issues. First, we think the N got tied up in the rye, but we also had a heavy infestation of army worms that we think carried over from the rye to the corn. I think next year we will consider terminating 10-14 days before planting. I like what I am seeing, we just need to tweak the system.
Terminating cereal rye before it joints when planting corn is the only way to keep from having Nitrogen tie-up, disease transfer, and insect pressure in April planted corn. Most guys who plant green and crimp it are planting in late May and early June and are organic. As long as my cereal rye is brown before the corn emerges I haven't had any problems.
******, when we decided to try planting corn in the green, we had mixed reviews about nitrogen tie up. Figured the only way to know was to try it for ourselves. Next spring we will terminate earlier, but we are also looking at ways to get the cover crop out earlier in the fall so we can cash in on fall growth potential. Thanks for the insight!
We’re on our 7th year of planting covers. Our main goal is to reduce erosion. It works very well for that.
We have been doing cover crops for over 20 years now mostly just wheat but have done some rye. A lot of farmers around here fly on their cover crop the first of September with great results. I have heard that some have even cut back to 1 1/2 bushels per acre vs the normal 2 and still have great results. I have switched over to growing organic corn and I'm looking at doing cereal rye and hairy vetch mix. Have a friend doing that, then rolling and crimping with great nitrogen building for the new corn crop. My farm has been doing no-till for over 35 years now. Normally I burn down my soybean field's 3-4 days before planting and it has worked out very well. So basically I'm planting in standing cover crop and when the no-till planter goes thru I have a mat of ground cover for weed control. I plant a early group 4 soybean that is able to branch out at a population of 108k-110k. On my farm I have seen a big change in organic matter as well as a increase in my CEC numbers. I have been told for years that cover crops work, you just have to play around and find the right mix that works for your soil and the crop that you plan on planting behind the cover crop.
First picture is broadcast wheat @ 2 bushels then stalk chopped. Second is aerial done before harvest @ 1.5 bushels.
Been using covers for 8 years now. I have tried quite a few different mixes. Most consistent one I've used is cereal rye seeded into corn mid August to mid September and plant soybeans into it next spring. Main use has changed to weed control. Also use for erosion and the soil health. This is in southern MN.
We've been using cover crops to some degree or another for over 10 years. Grazing, nutrient capture/ cycling, nitrogen fixing, soil building.
Often in that priority order. Most of the time in a mix of some kind.
The last 3 years we've really upped the acres getting cover crops.
Next spring we'll be roller crimping rye ahead of soybeans on an organic field.
Started using cover crops about 10 years ago, mainly for grazing where we saw direct $ returns, have since expanded beyond our grazed acres to using on 100% of our 5,000 acres. We did this as we saw all the other benefits ranging from erosion control, improved water intake, and soil health. We grow about 50% popcorn, 30% soybeans, and 20% field corn. Plant soybeans by no-till and corn/popcorn by no-till or strip-till. Learn something new every year. Primary species used is cereal rye, but mix in oats where we are only going to fall graze, radish where we need some compaction relief, rape goes about every where we don't use radish. We seed using several methods, air plane, drill, high clearance machine, vertical till. Our seeding preferences are high clearance and vertical till due to them being our cheapest application methods and best stand establishment results.
We have been planted cereal rye after corn silage for quite a few years and have seen many benefits. We are in north-central Wisconsin with fairly sandy soils. We usually have no till planted corn into the rye and as long as the rye doesn’t get too tall there’s no issues. Now we are no tilling corn, beans, and alfalfa into the rye and it all works. We have seen many benefits, increased OM%, decrease soil erosion, better trafficability and infiltration, nutrient scavenging, and increase in yields. On our sandy soils I think the rye actually helps stabilize N by adding carbon and helps us to leach less throughout the growing season.
I want to get to the point where 100% of our acres have a cover crop and I want to experiment with different cover crop species and different cover crop planting methods other than drilling post harvest. I’d like to eventually be able to cut our synthetic fertilizer use by 75% or better and decrease chemicals by about 50% or better.
We have been using cover crops for about 8 years now. Using field view its pretty easy seeing where it is really paying off. Certain soil types show positive yield gains a
for a few years after the covers were grown. The easiest species that we use are cereal rye, oats, rape and turnips. The oats gives a lot of above ground cover quickly, but the rye spends a lot of it's energy growing below ground. The next spring though rye is quite aggressive and grows fast. Planting into standing rye with beans works great. We are trying to figure out the best way to use it with corn as we have seen some yield reductions of the corn this year. We will terminate the cover in corn shortly after planting and will probably front load our nitrogen to prevent early nitrogen deficiency due to tie up by the rye. I think the benefits are ROI, better soil health that leads to better water infiltration, capturing and recycling nutrients that are down deep, wind and water erosion control, and possibly the most beneficial is a better public image.
My advice to anyone is start playing around with this stuff. Keep it simple and keep your expectations in check. I firmly believe more and more of what we do on the farm will be dictated and demanded by the non farming public and it is in our best interests to figure out how to do this stuff sooner rather than later. From southwest Minnesota, Good luck to you and your families!
I can't agree more about the demand from non-farming public. We truly do what we do BECAUSE they allow us to!
Rape crimson clover, and Cereal rye flown on soybeans on September while the leaves turned.
We’ve been toying with cover crops since 2014. Done some fall cover crops, full season ones and some companion crop. ( clover seeded with durum/wheat with the drill) in my area of sw sask I’d say full season and companion crops work best bc we get so dry in the fall. Our goal is to increase our fall grazing program and improve soil health/biology
We put one farm in a cover crop of oats this year. After Jan. 1 the local manure police will not allow us to spread manure on bare ground . Ithaca to be spread into a cover crop
I have been using cover crop for at least 5 years now. Mainly cereal rye for erosion control and to build organic matter levels in the soil. Have done both aerial application and drilled after harvest.
What crops do you follow your cereal rye with?
Following rye cover, soybeans are the easiest to manage. Corn can be tricky. Rye has such a large amount of biomass that breaks down thus tying up nitrogen for awhile. The other thing is early competition from the rye with seedling corn. We think by terminating the rye at planting and front loading the nitrogen program will solve these problems.
What are you guys paying for aerial application for seeding covers. It gets quite expensive in my region if you’re trying to put out much volume
It really comes down to about $200 per hour. So how far are you from the airport and how ********* can he get on a load?
Airport is within a mile or two. Not sure how much he can get per load. Thanks for the response
Smaller planes haul 1200 to 1400 lbs I'm 10 miles from the airport, used 10# ARG 15 # Hairy vetch and 4 pounds radishes on 100 acres and the bill was $1400. I've found if I pay by the hour I get much better coverage.
We pay $15-16 per acre for 50 lbs of cereal rye. He can hold 80 acres worth at a time.
This fall I had the plane spread cereal rye at 50# / acre, totaled $21.65 / acre.
$11.50 for the plane
$10.15 for the rye
I use various mixes of spelt, rye, Austrian winter peas, black oats, and vetch for cover before subsurface drip irrigated cotton. Main goal is to reduce soil erosion and to retain moisture over the winter for spring. Pretty good results with everything so far (3 years)
I have been trying covers for 4 years now in S Central MN. I like the erosion control benefits. We have seen some improvement in weed control and soil aggregation. I don't quite know how to measure the nutrient cycling impact just yet. I have looked at soil health tests, soil testing, and tissue sampling to understand the crop needs, but tying that all back to my fertility plan isn't exactly clear cut. I want a living root in the ground year round, and prefer to maximize the days of growth as much as possible. I interseed around V4 in corn with a multi-species mix which includes ARG, turnips, rape, buckwheat, hairy vetch, flax and a few other things. Usually get a good take and will be there through the year. But, not much of it over winters, so I have tried getting cereal rye on in the fall. I have had mixed results with aerial seeding depending on timing of rain, but when it takes it is amazing. Planting covers with Soybeans has been patchy when trying pre-harvest, so I moreso plant behind the combine. This year it germinated and started growing before freeze up, which is great. Even if some of what we planted dies off with little growth, that initial growth does tremendous things to benefit the soil biology. Planting soybeans green has been pretty easy and I usually wait to terminate the covers as long as possible, with a careful watch on moisture. I have planted corn green as well, and have learned to get nitrogen on right behind the planter to offset the tie up from the rye. I have seen tremendous benefit of having something green in the spring using up excess moisture when it comes to plantability. I terminate right behind the corn planter, or within 5 days at the latest. Still learning and testing new things.
I thought I'd share an observation. This week we were tiling in a field that had rye seeded in mid August. The above ground growth was about 3 to 4 inches tall, but I was seeing live roots 48 inches deep. They are actually deeper than that but 48 inches was all the deeper that I needed to be for making my connection. But, that root system is the real story and benefit of those cover crops. Pulling up nutrients from beneath where corn or beans root, making pathways through the soil, helping to create a sponge for water , keeping a live root to support soil biology. All these benefits are happening without a lot of showy top growth in the fall and will continue into the winter only to take off again in the spring.
If you have not played around with cover crops, I suggest doing so and take some time to dig into the soil and see for yourself on your farm what kind benefits are occurring.
Are you talking about cereal rye or Annual Ryegrass?
I have noticed similar root proliferation when I pull up a large rock with the inline ripper in the spring on rye cover crops.
Cereal rye is what we are using.