Ask Zeb Winslow III concerning the secret to utilizing no-till and cover crops in cotton, corn, and soybeans, and he’ll let you know there’s not one secret. “The secret is to keep on trying,” he says.
Winslow farms 750 acres of corn, cotton and soybeans along with his father Zeb Winslow, Jr. close to Scotland Neck, N.C. The Winslows have been utilizing no-till, cover crops and nutrient administration of their operation for the previous eight years. They’ve realized that getting the cover crop planted and terminated efficiently and in a well timed method is vital to their soil well being administration.
Winslow spoke at a March 9 webinar on soil well being placed on by the Soil Well being Institute. Winslow emphasised there isn’t a “one size fits all” plan for farmers to make use of no-till and cover crops and that everyone has a distinct goal. He mentioned it’s crucial for farmers to find out what direction you might be headed and what drives you.
“It’s not easy. We’ve come a long way. We planted into some huge cover crops and had some great results and planted into some huge cover crops and had complete failures. It’s really been a learning process and we’re finally starting to dial it up to a happy medium,” Winslow mentioned within the webinar.
“You’re going to have mechanical problems every year. Everybody’s planter is going to be a little bit different, everybody’s system is going to be a little bit different, but you can dial that in as you go to figure out what you’re going to do,” he mentioned.
He inspired farmers to start out small when contemplating planting cover crops. He confused it’s a lot simpler, at first, managing 10 acres than it is determining what to do with 1,000 acres of cover.
The Winslows transitioned out of conventional-tillage right into a strip-till and cover crop system within the late Nineties and early 2000s. In 2014, they planted their first multi-species cover crop by means of a program by Pure Sources Conservation Service.
“Prior to that we were using a KMC strip-till rig. We would plant a single species cover crop, usually triticale, and we’d let it get up maybe as tall as your boots. In March, beginning of April, we’d kill it. Then we’d strip-till into it. It was crunchy and dead when we went in there and did it and there was very little residue left once we had terminated that stuff and planted into it,” Winslow defined.
In 2020, the household used a cut up row planter to seed all 750 acres of cover crops that will likely be terminated utilizing a curler crimper. Winslow famous that rolling holds the weeds again and permits the crop to carry moisture.
“We’ve seen increases in above ground and below ground biology. I’ve seen worms, spill bugs and all types of spiders, field mice, different arthropods and beetles when I go looking around under the residue throughout the year,” Winslow mentioned of the soil well being advantages.
Once they go in and begin to roll the covers down, Winslow mentioned he has seen all forms of birds, turkeys, and different forms of wildlife within the area. “We’ve also seen a huge improvement in our soil structure.”