The fallow interval between soybean harvest and corn planting in a crop rotation is extremely weak to sediment and nutrient losses, however soybean harvest is typically so late that there isn’t sufficient time to reliably set up a cover crop.
If a cover crop is established, choices are usually restricted to cereal rye or winter wheat. For a lot of, the monetary threat of a failed cover crop stand outweighs the potential advantages.
One planting technique that may develop the cover crop seeding window is broadcasting seed into standing soybeans. Success with one of these broadcast seeding utilizing fertilizer spreaders has been famous by some farmers, and it may well purchase further weeks for cover crop development, however greatest practices haven’t been established for this space.
In 2020, the Pennsylvania Soybean Board On-Farm Community added a research to judge the feasibility of this observe in 5 areas: three cooperating farms in Montgomery, Potter and York counties, and the 2 Penn State analysis farms in Lancaster and Centre counties.
9 cover crop species had been evaluated on the analysis farms, together with cereal rye, winter wheat, annual ryegrass, rape, forage radish, Balansa clover, crimson clover, purple clover and bushy vetch. Cooperating farmers selected their very own desired species. No cover “control” plots had been additionally included in any respect websites, and species “treatments” had been replicated 4 occasions at every location.
Technique and timing
Broadcast seeding methodology diversified by location from hand seeding to business scale tools.
The focused seeding was after R6 and before leaf drop, however seeding occurred at leaf drop on the analysis farm in Lancaster and the Potter County websites. Seeding dates ranged from Sept. 22 to Oct. 6, 2020, and NDVI (normalized distinction vegetation index) readings had been carried out with hand-held Trimble GreenSeeker Crop Sensors. Values vary between 0 and 1 and are an indicator of “greenness” within the subject; the nearer the worth to 1, the much less naked soil and extra vegetation.
We use these values to point the success of cover crop institution and floor cover, together with cover crop density (variety of vegetation per sq. foot).
Soil nitrate values at soybean harvest and cover crop termination, and spring aboveground biomass had been additionally measured.
On common, cereal rye and winter wheat carried out higher than all different cover crop species, accumulating probably the most biomass, highest density and most floor cover. Plots with cereal rye or wheat additionally had decrease weed biomass in comparison with different cover crop species or the crop management.
Nevertheless, biomass was nonetheless low in comparison with drilling after soybean harvest, even contemplating the sooner planting date. Rye and wheat ranged from as little as 800 kilos per acre in Montgomery County to 2,000 kilos per acre on the Lancaster website. The one exception was the reasonable 6,000 kilos per acre of rye in York.
Attributable to typically low biomass of covers general, we weren’t shocked to see little results on soil nitrate.
Throughout websites, annual ryegrass, bushy vetch and rape didn’t have as profitable institution or as a lot biomass as cereal rye and wheat, however throughout websites they carried out higher than clovers.
Sadly, clover species didn’t overwinter in any respect cooperator websites, and Balansa clover didn’t emerge in any respect in Rock Springs. Nevertheless, crimson clover was among the many greatest performing species in Lancaster.
Getting in earlier
We had been inspired that we had been in a position to seed 16 to 56 days sooner than we’d have if ready till after soybean harvest, however our common broadcast date was nonetheless the final week of September, which is later than the really useful date for many legumes, largely contributing to the failure of those species to thrive throughout websites.
This resulted in low institution for the legumes and reasonable success with species similar to cereal rye and wheat, which might have possible established effectively with a drill after harvest anyway.
So, in 2022, we are going to goal earlier-planted and earlier-maturing soybean fields that could be hitting maturity — our R6-leaf yellowing window — in late August or early September.
Along with planting earlier in September or August, we additionally plan to judge wheel-track harm and yield loss from the published operation and can use commercial-scale tools at extra websites versus hand-broadcasting.
We’re nonetheless in search of cooperators for the second 12 months of this challenge. In case you are focused on collaborating within the On-Farm Community and wish to see if broadcasting cover crops can work in your farm, contact Heidi Reed at [email protected] for extra data.
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