Improved tool can help Midwest farmers with cover crop decisions

A cereal rye cover crop planted following corn in late April on an Iowa farm. The Midwest Cover Crops Council’s new cover crop tool can help farmers determine the best types of cover crops for their fields. (Photo courtesy Tom Kaspar)

The cover crop decision tool described in this article will be used in discussions during the 2020 Virtual Farm Science Review.

The following article is a reprint from the September 9, 2020, Purdue University Agriculture News.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Cover crops have been shown to improve water and soil quality, reduce erosion, and capture nutrients. Choosing the right cover crop, however, can be difficult.

The Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) —made up of representatives from 12 Midwest states and universities, including Purdue, the province of Ontario, and other agricultural stakeholders — is rolling out an improved cover crop selection tool that will help farmers make those decisions. Users select their state/province and county and then select the goals they have for cover crops — erosion control, nitrogen scavenger, fighting weeds, and providing forage, etc. They also can provide information about the cash crops they are planting and drainage data for their fields. The tool offers the best cover crop options for the specified conditions. Clicking on the cover crops brings up data sheets that offer more information about each crop, seeding rates, and more. Continue reading

Herbicide Residue Considerations for Fall Cover Crop Establishment

Cover Crops in Corn Stalks

Article from CORN Newsletter on September 1, 2020 – By Mark Loux and Alyssa Essman, OSU

Herbicides with a residual that is used in corn and soybeans can affect the establishment of fall-planted cover crops and should be taken into account when planning cover crop practices and selecting species. Soil characteristics and weather also play a role in the persistence of residual herbicides, which can vary by field and year. More information is needed on rotational intervals for many cover crop species, and this information is often not included on herbicide labels. University weed scientists have studied the effect of residual herbicides on some of the most popular cover crop species in order to provide this information to growers. In general, residual herbicides that control grass weeds can hinder the establishment of grass cover crop species. Broadleaf cover crop species are most impacted by group 2 (ALS inhibitors), 5 (PSII inhibitors), 14 (PPO inhibitors), and 27 (HPPD inhibitors) herbicides (Purdue University). Continue reading

Soil Residual Herbicides And Establishment Of Cover Crops In The Fall

Crimson clover stands in 2019 cover crop trials. (Photo Credit: Connor Hodgkiss)

By Marcelo Zimmer and Bill Johnson, Purdue Extension

Indiana growers have shown increased interest in utilizing cover crops in our corn and soybean production systems over the last decade.  Concurrently, there has also been increased utilization of soil residual herbicides to help manage herbicide-resistant weeds such as marestail (horseweed), waterhemp, and giant ragweed in our corn and soybean production systems.  Soil residual herbicides can remain active in the soil for a period of weeks to months after application.  The length of time a residual herbicide remains biologically active in the soil is influenced by soil texture, soil pH, organic matter, rainfall, and temperature.  Since these factors will vary from field to field, definitive time intervals of residual herbicide activity can be difficult to predict.

The use of residual herbicides in our corn and soybean production systems may interfere with the establishment of fall-seeded cover crops under certain conditions.  Unfortunately, many of the species being used for cover crops were not evaluated for herbicide carryover when field research was conducted to support EPA’s approved herbicide labels.  As a result, data are lacking regarding rotational intervals of many residual herbicides for the establishment of many cover crop species. Continue reading

Cover Crop Field Day in NW Ohio, SE Michigan (Hillsdale Conservation District Cover Crop Field Day)

Join Hillsdale Conservation District on Thursday, September 3 for their 2020 Cover Crop Field Day hosted by Person Farms (19233 County Rd. 5.50, Montpelier, OH 43543; .5 mile South of W. Territorial Rd.). Please note, registration is required for entry. You may RSVP with names and numbers of guests to Allison Grimm at 517-320-3245; Cody Birdsell at 517-260-1276; or e-mail hillsdalecd@macd.org.

Registration and dinner will be from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. and the program will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a cover crop test plot tour followed by a cover crop trial and error open discussion. Credits offered include 2 MI RUP credits and CCA credits (pending approval).

Cover Crop Considerations After Wheat

By:  Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Crawford County (originally published in The Ohio Farmer)

Wheat provides many additional opportunities for your operation. These options include drainage improvements, weed-control timing, double-crop soybeans, double-crop forages, compaction mitigation, and soil building through cover crops. From the time wheat is harvested, there are about nine months for weeds to grow and soil to erode. If double-crop soybeans are not planted, the use of cover crops will protect the soil and assist with weed control. High populations of cover crops provide competition and soil cover to control weeds. Continue reading

The Nature Conservancy Seeks Cover Crop Farmers in the Maumee River Watershed

By:  Stephanie Singer, TNC Western Lake Erie Basin Outreach Education Specialist, Stephanie.Singer@tnc.org,

DEFIANCE, Ohio (June 9th, 2020) – The Nature Conservancy is looking for farmers who are currently utilizing cover crops on their farms in the Maumee River Watershed of the Western Lake Erie Basin.  We are looking for a diverse group of farmers; large acreage, small acreage, corn and soy, small grains, livestock, new and experienced, willing to reach out and share their knowledge and experiences with other farmers in their area.  Selected farmers will be compensated for their time.  If you are interested in being part of this exciting farmer-led outreach project and would like to apply as a Farmer Advocate for Conservation please complete the online application form by using this Link.  Or by contacting Stephanie Singer, Stephanie.Singer@tnc.org, Phone: 419-782-0652. Continue reading

Cover Crop Termination

Cereal RyeBy: Alyssa Essman and Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension, Weed Science Specialist

The 2019 growing season came and went and left many fields in a state of disarray heading into 2020. Many growers that were unable to plant decided to use cover crops, to reduce soil erosion and provide some weed suppression during the extended fallow period. Terminating these cover crops using the right methods at the right time will be critical to ensure timely planting and prevent the cover crops from competing with cash crops. The three main methods of cover crop termination are natural (species that winter kill), chemical, and mechanical. Cover crops may also be bailed, grazed, or harvested as silage. Most species require some sort of management decision for termination. Cover crop species, growth stage, weather, and cover cropping goals should all be considered when planning termination method and timing. These decisions require a balance between growing the cover long enough to maximize benefits and terminating in time to prevent potential penalties to the following cash crop. Continue reading

Thinking about Cover Crops…thoughts to consider

By Sarah Noggle and Alan Sundermeier

Decisions, decisions these days.  When it comes to selecting the right cover crop for your farm, there is no one-size-fits-all option. This document is to help those of you new to cover crops with the thoughts, questions, and decisions, one needs to make when selecting cover crops. oatsPlanting cover crops to prevented planting acres to protect the soil from further water and wind erosion.

Continue reading

Cows Under the Covers Field Day

Please click on the flyer if interested in attending a grazing and cover crop workshop on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 in Camden, Michigan.

Join us at Person Farms on Wednesday, August 21 for an advanced Cover Crop and Grazing workshop with guest speakers Steve Groff, “The Cover Crop Coach” and Jerry Lindquist, retired MSU grazing educator. Continue reading