Monday, October 1, 2012

Starting Is The First Step

Plans are grand, but starting them is the first step.  That's the title of this months NoTill Farmer article about Terry Taylor of TNT Farms near Geff, Illinois.  We can talk about trying a new idea but starting to do it is the first step.  It has to be repeated many times before it becomes habit.  Cover croping is a hard habit to start because it requires more work and investment.  Is it worth it?

Terry has worked closely with Mike Plumer when he worked for the University of Illinois.  I met Mike years ago at the National NoTillage Conference and met Terry in January of this year.  Mike is also quoted in this months NoTill Farmer Magazine so you might want to get yourself a copy.

Mike has seen cover crops help control soybean diseases.  Research trials at 8 locations across Illinois has shown a favorable impact from seeding cover crops to control several problems in no-till soybeans.  Mike has worked with cover crops for 22 years.

Terry's article talks about many of the attributes he's found with annual ryegrass and many other cover crop species and mixes.  Most cover croppers haven't tried the all the mixes and experiments Terry and Mike has.

The piece with Mike's research focuses on the gases from rape seed killing soybean cyst nematodes or SCN, SDS or Sudden Death Syndrome and other soybean diseases.  "When rapeseed decomposes, it releases a toxic gas.  If that is trapped in the soil, it kills it fumigates the soil, if laying on top, it leaches into the soil."

Terry has had great success using Annual Ryegrass to penetrate his tough Illinoian Glacial Till so that crop roots can follow those root channels the next summer.  4 inch rye with 50 inch roots is the goal and very obtainable.  I don't know why it hasn't caught on here but cereal rye is in great demand and I have seen more the last few years than any other cover crop.

Radishes are the big hit though as thousands of acres were sown in 2011 when crops couldn't be planted on time and farmers took insurance payments instead.  Great increases in corn and soybean yields are being reported following those radish and other cover crops.

I need to do a story on that after harvest but tomorrow I want to talk about the Parable of the Seed Sower in Matthew.  LuAnn and I did that as part of our Bible study this morning and the numbers are amazing!

I think I have a picture of Terry's coring machine he used to show us the changes in his soils from years of cover crops.  One soil scientist looked at them and said something like, "Don't expect us to come and reclassify those soils just because you changed them with cover crops!"

Ed

3 comments:

  1. Don't blog so early, Ed, next thing you know, you'll be confusing ryegrass and cereal rye... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dazed and confused, some days are that way. Not yesterday, though! A lime salesman came by today and was selling high calcium lime and the price was so good I bought everything he had! 500 tons doesn't go very far anymore!

    ReplyDelete
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