Cover Crops Decatur

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I shared this presentation at the Effective Cover Cropping in the Midwest conference in Decatur IL on 12/8/2011

Text of Cover Crops Decatur

  • 1. Finding the best fit cover crops in organic farming systems Dr. Joel Gruver WIU Agriculture j-gruver@wiu.edu
  • 2. A typical view 50 years ago
  • 3. Typical rural landscape in IA and IL today >90% of landsurface in corn or soybeans
  • 4. This is notgoing to work for organic farming systems!
  • 5. What do modern organic farming systems look like?
  • 6. Where do cover crops fit in modern organic farming systems?
  • 7. Cover crops are not the missing puzzle piece(s) in current crop rotations! http://www.ncl.ac.uk/tcoa/files/breakcrops_orgagr.pdf
  • 8. Overview of book contents Problems and opportunities for over 500 crop sequences Characteristics of more than 60 crops and 70 weeds Crop diseases hosted by over 80 weed species Modes of transmission for 250 diseases of 24 crops Thirteen sample four- and five-year vegetable and Rotations grain crop rotations Managing Crop Rotation Chart should evolve with key tasks & steps not revolve Sample worksheets and calculations Step-by-step procedure for determining crop rotation plans
  • 9. Overview of book contents Problems and opportunities for over 500 crop sequences Characteristics of more than 60 crops and 70 weeds Crop diseases hosted by over 80 weed species Modes of transmission for 250 diseases of 24 crops Thirteen sample four- and five-year vegetable and grain crop rotations Managing Crop Rotation Chart with key tasks & steps Sample worksheets and calculations Step-by-step procedure for determining crop rotation plans
  • 10. Excellent information on integrating cover crops with agronomic crops http://ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/0009.pdf
  • 11. Conservation Augmentation3 broad goals of Activation ecological & deactivation management underpin effective organic farming systems
  • 12. More conservation is needed! Organic farm in NW Missouri
  • 13. Terminating spring planted oats with a soil finisher ~ 3 weeks before planting corn biological activation (enhanced nutrient cycling) & deactivation (weed suppression)
  • 14. Cover crops have many effects! Feedlivestock Cover Crops Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  • 15. Not all are positive Host pests Tie up N ? ? Become a weed Interfere w/ equipment performance Suppresscrop growth Cover Crops Dry out soil Prevent excessively soil Add cost drying Increase management Adapted from Magdoff and Weil (2004)
  • 16. Avoid haphazard use of cover crops What am I supposed to do now?Develop a plan to increase beneficial effects while minimizing negative effects
  • 17. Matching specific objectives with species Grazing brassicas, clovers, small grains, a. ryegrass, sorghum-sudan Nutrient scavenging/cycling brassicas, small grains, annual ryegrass Bio-drilling brassicas, sugarbeet, sunflower, sorghum-sudan sweet clover, alfalfa N-fixationclovers, vetches, lentil, winter pea, chickling vetch, sun hemp, cowpea, soybean Bio-activation/fumigation brassicas, sorghum-sudan, sun hemp, sesame Weed suppression brassicas, sorghum-sudan, cereal rye, buckwheat
  • 18. Have you tried any forage brassicas? #1Ethiopian opportunity tocabbage Winfred make cover crops pay http://www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk/2005/12/brassicas.html Hunter
  • 19. Historically crop rotationsrevolved around LEGUMES
  • 20. Do all legumes add N to the soil? Soybean seeds often contain >25% more N than was fixed within their nodules
  • 21. Typical amounts of nitrogen fixed by legumes (lbs/ac/yr) Alfalfa 150-300+ Soybeans 150-250 Hairy vetch 75-200 Red clover 75-150Other annual forage 50-150 legumes
  • 22. 133 lbs of K/ac 52 lbs of Ca/ac Only legumes fix nitrogen Hairy Vetch 3,260 lbs of DM/ac 141 lbs of N/ac All cover crops capture and recycle plant essential nutrients18 lbs of P/ac 18 lbs of Mg/ac
  • 23. Best single source of info on cover crops is FREE!
  • 24. Best collection of information on cover cropping in the Midwest
  • 25. What to Look For in A Cover Crop Fast germination and emergence Competitiveness Tolerance to adverse climatic & soil conditions Ease of suppression/residue management Fertility/soil quality benefits Low-cost
  • 26. Additional considerations How will I seed the cover crop?What will soil temperature and moisture conditions be like? What weather extremes