Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Aussie Cover Crop Blog

I encouraged a friend in Australia to keep up his new Aussie Cover Crop Blog.  New Zealand and Australia brought us hot wire fencing, mob grazing, turnips, radishes and a whole host of good things to America.  We were blessed to get to see this again this winter.

There are lots of good cover crop blogs and articles available on the Internet.  It is the hot item here in the states.  My friends Dave and Steve has grown a full crop of corn with no purchased nitrogen.  That is pretty amazing when you think about it.  When you walk on their farms, you can tell from the driveway they don't farm like their neighbors.  I will attest to the fact they have both improved the soil tilth, aeration and health.  Their soil was once worn out and plowed to death and now they are living, healthy and sustainable.

I wonder how many cover crop blogs I have written in the past 4 1/2 years?  I bet several hundred of the 1617 blogs I've written focus on or refer to cover crops.  Steve's radishes really got me going when I sowed them with my wheat several years ago and saw the color change at green up.  I increased yield by 12 bushels 3 times in a row and you can still see that first patch on the yield monitor here today.

"An especially interesting part of the workshop for me was the talk on the cover crops as biofumigants in vegetable production. Brassica cover crops including radish, mustard and turnip can suppress pests such as insects, nematodes, weeds and fungi. Because of the ability of brassica cover crops to produce toxic compounds that are effective for suppressing pests, they are called biofumigants. Biofurmigation refers to the process of breaking down brassica cover crops, releasing toxic compounds and incorporating them into the soil.


However, simply planting brassica cover crops does not automatically improve everything, of course. For example, while brassica cover crops improved yields for celery, onion and eggplants in some studies, Dr. Ajay Nair at Iowa State University talked about the study in which musk melon suffered lower yield after brassica cover crops. The cause, he explained, was most likely because the period between biofumigation and melon seeding was too short. Also, when using brassica cover crops as biofumigants, Ajay reminded the workshop attendees to remember to mow all the time as mowing gives biofumigation capacity."

This is just one tiny thing cover crops do for soil, affecting it for years later.  The way some of the guys I've met completely changed their NRCS soil type description is no less amazing.

Every thing we do today affects our productivity tomorrow.

I was taught to leave things better than I found them.  Are we doing that today in modern agriculture?

250 bu green corn with brown husks last year in the center of 5 miles of dead 50 bushel corn tells me we are not.

What do you think?

Ed Winkle

4 comments:

  1. http://plantcovercrops.com/cover-crops-and-prevented-planting-guidelines/

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  2. I'm excited to plant a cover crop of rye and radishes and turnips after the wheat where the cows can graze. May plant just raddishes and rye where the cows can't get to.

    Probably have the guys talking at the feed store but who cares. Farming on the highway is always fun as you have alot of followers who pay attention to what your doing. I am no better I road scout some fields too ;)

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  3. I have been doing that for 40 years, Brad. No one here knew calcitic from dolomitc lime when I started teaching ag and shared what I learned. Then I got into tissue testing and micro nutrients and I really confused them! Then they bring in GPS and grid sampling and wonder why farmers think it is the best thing since sliced bread? They don't even understand the basics!

    Ed

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