The rigs parked in the Huerkamp farm store are not one thing you see day by day.
Two 12-row bedders — each mounted with air seeders. Hoses run from the seeder to an opener simply above the center busters. Father-son staff Joe and Tyler Huerkamp name them a easy answer to the challenges of planting behind cover crops. Easy options are sometimes one of the best.
“We were just trying to get away from cover on top of the row because of the issues we were having with planting,” stated Joe Huerkamp, a cotton and corn grower in Macon, Miss. “We mounted air seeders on our hippers. Now we seed right behind the middle busters and just on top of the ground. As the dirt falls in, it covers it just enough.”
Most farmers who’re utilizing cover crops know the choice of when to terminate is a trade-off. Terminate too early and also you don’t capitalize on the total advantages of weed management and erosion prevention that covers present. Terminate later and also you run the danger of extra biomass that slows planting and doubtlessly decreases seed to soil contact.
Planting cover crops solely in the row middles gives one of the best of each, in accordance with the Huerkamps.
“By planting the cover just in the middles, we avoid the top of the row, so we don’t have the challenges with the planter. We also get better seed to soil contact if the cover is not on top of the bed,” added Tyler.
The Huerkamps should not essentially planting inexperienced — Tyler says they prefer to terminate one week previous to planting corn and three weeks earlier than cotton.
“But we could plant green if we had to because the cover crop is only in the row bottoms,” he stated.
“It just seems to work better,” Joe added.
New strategy to cover crops
The Huerkamps are primarily cotton farmers who rotate with corn. They bought into cover crops a number of years in the past via a USDA NRCS incentive program. They shortly noticed advantages, together with decreased soil erosion, much less weeds and improved natural matter. As Joe stated, “Every once in a while, the government will have a program that does what it needs to do.”
They now plant cover crops on 100% of their acres.
However there was dangerous with the nice. The roots of some species, notably cereal rye, can develop into underground tile drainage pipes and trigger clogging points. Then there was the surplus biomass that clogged planters and customarily made planting a headache.
The Huerkamps weren’t the one ones going through challenges planting behind covers. Their farming neighbors in Noxubee County have been additionally experiencing difficulties with an excessive amount of vegetation.
Joe credit his neighbors, the Skinners, with creating the idea of planting covers solely in the middles behind the hipper. An awesome instance of farmer ingenuity and creativity.
Final 12 months Joe and Tyler tried it for themselves. They welded air seeders to their bedders, stretching hoses from the seeder to the center busters. The air seeder blows the seed behind the busters. With simply two days work, the Huerkamps had created an implement that will plant cover crops because it made row beds.
“This approach eliminates a trip across the field,” Joe stated. “Before, we were broadcasting our covers solid, and it was just hard to get across the acres.” Eliminating a visit might show to be a big profit this 12 months as a late crop will go away much less time for area work and planting covers. They Huerkamps say they like to complete planting cover crops by early December.
Different farmers in Noxubee County at the moment are utilizing this covers in the middles strategy and the idea is starting to catch on in japanese Mississippi.
“I talked with a farmer recently who said he wanted to come out and look at the rig,” Joe stated. “As farmers we try to help each other out. We’ve learned a lot from other farmers, and when you find something that looks good and works you want to share it.”
This was the second 12 months the Huerkamps have used the hipper/air seeder to plant covers. They’ve been comfortable with the outcomes, particularly erosion management. The cover’s capacity to maintain soil in place was actually examined in 2021 when a June storm dumped practically 16 inches of rain on their fields in somewhat over 24 hours. Improved water infiltration after years of planting cover crops mixed with a good mat left between rows helped protect the fields.
2021 has been a take a look at in some ways. An unusually moist and funky spring delayed progress. After we visited the Huerkamps in August, they estimated they have been a month behind.
“One of the benefits of this method is that the soil doesn’t seem to dry out as fast if you only have cover in the bottom of the row,” Joe stated. “In a typical year, that would be a good thing, but this year it worked against us a little because we had so much rain.”
However general, the Huerkamps have been optimistic about harvest. The sector of dryland corn that they had simply shelled averaged 212 bu/a. The cotton crop was trying promising, too.
They are going to start area work and cover planting quickly after harvest. Earlier than beginning they plan to make a couple of modifications to their rig.
“We’re going to put an elbow on the seed opener on the buster to blow the seed back farther. We were getting too much dirt falling on it, and I think the seed was going a little too deep,” Joe stated.
“We also plan to mount a camera on the back so we can watch it in the tractor. We want to look at the meter rollers. If they plug you can catch that quickly. The cameras are an inexpensive way to monitor that,” stated Joe.
“It did what we wanted it to do last year, but we saw places we could make small improvements,” Tyler added.
One other change deliberate for subsequent season is transferring to a strictly black oats cover on most acres, though the Huerkamps may have some clover on about 400 acres.
“Cereal rye can get away from you, and when it gets too tall it’s hard to kill,” Joe stated. “We like black oats because it produces good biomass but is much easier to terminate.”
“We’re still experimenting with cover crops and learning more each year.”
And they’re going to maintain on the lookout for these easy options that make their farm extra environment friendly.