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Agronomy Talk


Developing Cover Crop Establishment Plans

Published on Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August is an excellent time to develop cover crop establishment plans. Using cover crops to reduce soil erosion, improve soil organic matter and health, and sequester plant nutrients for future crops is gaining popularity in Missouri. As with the development of any new practice, the use of cover crops and their establishment can be challenging as one learns what works and doesn’t work on his or her farm. Just today, I listened to a customer discuss his desire not to “give up” on cover crops, even as we walked fields that had challenges establishing soybeans after cereal rye where soil had remained saturated longer than desired.

Interestingly, Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR)® in Indiana observed similar challenges in a very wet 2015 spring despite observing their most consistent ROI with cereal rye ahead of soybeans in prior year’s research. You can find the full results here. Often, we need resources to assist us as we try new practices. There is a soil health conference worth attending that focuses heavily on cover crop management held annually near Boonville, MO. Two resources I find useful can be found online here and here

We also have individuals within our Beck’s dealer and customer network in Missouri, who have tried and successfully managed cover crops in grain crop systems. We can learn with each other. Feel free to contact your dealer, seed advisor, or myself with assistance in cover crop species selection and management. 

Author: David Hughes