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On Thursday February 2, Practical Farmers held a cover crop field day at Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, Iowa. Thirty or so attendees at the field day tuned in to the second webinar in the Agronomy Society of America’s “Cover Crops 2017 – Looking Beyond the Basics” series sponsored by SARE. Practical Farmers member Chris Teachout presented on his experience using cover crops or as he describes it, “keeping the soil fully armored year round.”
Chris talked about some of the more advanced practices he has implemented on his farm like broadcasting cowpeas into standing corn to get cover between the rows. His advice is to choose a bushy or semi-bushy cow pea that stays low to the ground like Ironclay rather than a viny variety that will climb the corn stalks and interfere with combining at harvest time. Collecting the above ground biomass from these cover crops he measured 9-10 lbs of Nitrogen captured per acre.
While some wondered if planting a spring cover crop is worth it, Chris has experimented with this practice and is getting 35 to 40 days of growth before termination. In his words, “the biological train is really going here. We even observed a yield bump.” Check out Chris’s power point which includes lots of great pictures of cover crops in action.
The other speaker on the webinar, Dr. Eileen Kladivko from Purdue University, went over both the basics and more advanced topics such as the science of cover crop mixes vs. monocultures in her talk. Check out her informative power point to learn more.
Next Thursday, February 9, will be the final webinar in the three part series. Dave Brandt of Brandts Farms and Anne Verhallen, a Soil Management Specialist (Horticultural Crops) at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, will discuss scouting cover crops to improve management. The description provided on ASA’s website is:
You’ve set the goals, established the cover crops and as you walk through the fields what are key indicators to look for that impact management decisions. Cover crops should complement the cash crop production and there are practical things to do that will help ensure that happens. A farmer with working experiences teams up with a researcher to discuss what farmers and agronomists should know for spring time management of cover crops.
The link to the recorded webinar will be emailed to all of the registered participants – so even if you can’t attend the last webinar in the series on February 9, be sure to register for this free educational opportunity so you can listen after the fact. Sign up for next Thursday’s FREE webinar “Scouting Cover Crops – What to Look For” here: http://agronomy.peachnewmedia.com/store/seminar/seminar.php?seminar=84391.