With cover crops growing in popularity, it’s not uncommon to see a field full of green in early April. Planting corn or soybeans into rye or other winter crops has some benefits. However, recent research from Iowa State University suggests not terminating cover crops ahead of planting could bring more disease and pests that may overwinter or start early.
To help understand cover crop decomposition and N release throughout the growing season, University of Nebraska researchers designed a study using “litterbags” — a common method to research crop decomposition. This research is part of the Precision Sustainable Agriculture (PSA), a collaborative project supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Sustainable Agricultural System Coordinated Agricultural Projects from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Scott Shriver, one of Iowa's leading organic farmers, recently conducted research to determine optimal soybean row-width and seeding dates when roller-crimping cereal rye. The soybeans he planted the day of roller-crimping ultimately yielded higher than those planted 13 and 17 days before.
When a cover crop is terminated, the fresh residue is broken down by microbes in the soil. These microbes use N and other key nutrients found in the cover crop residue as fuel sources for the break-down process. However, if there is not enough N in the residue to complete the process, microbes will use N from the soil instead.
The study looked a pumpkin plots in Kansas, where the Halloween staple is frequently grown in rotation following soybeans, and are a staple of agritourism, according to the study published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal.
There is some confusion when it comes to knowing the differences between annual ryegrass and cereal rye. Many confuse these crops because they share the word “rye” in their names. Read more in this article from The Waukon Standard (Waukon, IA).
Earlier this season, a lack of soil moisture across much of the state raised concerns about the potential for successful cover crop establishment this fall. Most areas still need more moisture to recharge the soil profile but recent rains have improved the moisture status overall. This has also improved the likelihood for successful establishment of a cereal rye cover crop this fall. Read more in this article from University of Minnesota Extension.
Now is the time to make plans for cover crop planting if you have not already done so. There are several cover crop species that are often talked about, however, cereal rye, oats and radish are the most commonly used cover crops. Read more in this article from Iowa State University.
Cereal rye ahead of soybean is not nearly as problematic. While planting green may not be advised for beginning cover crop users, more experienced cover crop users have planted soybean into green cereal rye. Read more in this article from Farm Forum.
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