Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Cover Crop Story

Cover crops are slowly changing the soil around us.  Cover crops have been around a long time as a few farmers were taught or learned that as soon as you harvest, your soil benefits by planting something else.  I don't know when "stale seedbeds" became the norm but they are slowly fading out of favor.

This video is on the CTIC website and explains "the story."  It's a big issue now in the Great Lakes with the huge algae issue that has caught many people's attention.  No one likes to recreate on a green gooey lake so rules of runoff are also changing.''

CTIC and other groups are working hard to get the message out.  Cover crops don't cost, they pay.  Here is the full report on how they proved this statement.  Farmers reported a 3.2% overall yield increase using cover crops ahead of their next crop.

Soybeans showed a 2 bushel increase nationwide.  That's only $20 in today's market and it's hard to plant another crop for that amount of money.  Still, the soil is moving ahead in soil health, not stagnant or going backward.

Grandpa had to have a longer rotation and sow cover crops because he only had the moldboard plow to control weeds and make a seedbed, and he always needed feed and pasture.  Machinery and herbicides lessened this need so the corn soybean rotation became in favor.  It still is today.

Even the gardner recognizes the value of cover crops to control weeds and build the soil for a good garden the following year.  He has the easiest job of taking a crop of and planting another.  Still, many people have not been taught to do that.

This year we are planting a bee pollinator crop on our CSP program.  It is a recognized soil and environment enhancement.  It requires at least nine different pollinator crops to attract and feed pollinating insects.  We are finishing up our order right now so we can enhance these valuable insects.

Hopefully, when you travel SR 28 through Martinsville this summer, you will see some beautiful flowers in our farm fields full of pollinating insects.

That will be the latest edition of "our cover crop story."  There are more pollinating insects than honey bees, though they get all of the spotlight.  Look for another blog on this subject.

Ed Winkle

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