The panelists at our field day last week near Luana all use a variety of seeding methods to get the cover crops in the field, but all agreed that the cover crops offer a variety of benefits to their farming operation.
Daryl Landsgard, who typically drills his cover crops, stated “Rye is king of cover crops in terms of soil health and getting biomass to improve the soil.”
Landsgard shared a recent experience where his farm received over two inches of rain in a very short time period. By the time it stopped and he got his boots on to check the field behind his house, the water had almost completely infiltrated. In his curiosity, he took a drive down the road and noted how there was still significant amounts of water standing in fields that had tillage done earlier in the year.
“Water infiltration is one of the greatest benefits of cover crops and no-till,” noted Landsgard
Using a modified soybean planter, Ron Sass seeds his cover crops to reduce soil erosion. “We need to keep soil around for thousands of generations to come. We can’t loose any more! The benefit of me using cover crops is for the farmers of the future – they’ll get more out it than I will.”
Rounding out the panel was Joe Shirbroun, who has used an airplane and had pretty good results the past couple of years. He is motivated to find a way to make cover crops work on his farm while he has the flexibility to learn the best management with the help from cost-share.
“Regulation is coming. I use cost share to figure out how to do this before they (cover crops) get mandated. Right now, it isn’t a net gain, it is a small loss but I am willing to do that for water quality,” commented Shirbroun.
Any way you want it, that’s the way to seed it! If you are interested in adding cover crops to your land, there are multiple ways to get them seeded to help match your system goals and labor availability. Consider starting with cereal rye before soybeans and seeding oats ahead of corn.
There are a lot of great resources available on our website, but also at your county ISU Extension Office or NRCS Office and local farmers in your area who have been successful with cover crops on their farms. Make a plan to get cover crops part of your operation in 2020!.