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Penn State Extension and Delaware Valley College Partner in Cover Crop Field Day

Posted: December 4, 2012

The Crop Management Team recently completed their tenth cover crop field day during the month of November at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown.
Ron Hoover, Penn State Extension, On-Farm Research Coordinator discusses cover crops at the Penn State Extension Cover Crop Field Day at Delaware Valley College, Doylestown, PA.

Ron Hoover, Penn State Extension, On-Farm Research Coordinator discusses cover crops at the Penn State Extension Cover Crop Field Day at Delaware Valley College, Doylestown, PA.

Cover crops can help improve soil quality, save manure nitrogen or fix nitrogen for the following crop, supply rescue forage and can lead to improved ground and surface water quality. Considering the interest in cover crops by farmers, the general public and others, the Crop Management Team at Penn State Cooperative Extension has established cover crop trials on dairy farms across Pennsylvania since 2009.

The Crop Management Team recently completed their tenth cover crop field day during the month of November at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown. Del Val was one of the eleven demonstration sites this year.  Over 30 participants including farmers, students, agency representatives and educators attended the field day Friday, November, 30th.

“We were concerned earlier in the week that the cover crops would still be covered by a few inches of snow!” said Andrew Frankenfield, Penn State Extension Agricultural Educator, responsible for hosting the event. “It all worked out, the sun melted the snow the day before and we had great attendance to view the plots and learn more about the value of cover crops.”

The plots included:

Crimson Clover and Annual Ryegrass

  • Low cost
  • Slow fall growth
  • Fast spring growth
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Heavy root mass
  • Excellent forage in spring

Crimson Clover and Triticale

  • Vigorous spring growth
  • Excellent winterhardiness of triticale
  • Nutrient retention and uptake
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Excellent forage in spring, high tonnage

Crimson Clover and Oat

  • Fast fall growth
  • Oat dies – only clover left in spring
  • Nutrient retention and uptake in fall
  • Nitrogen fixation, esp in spring
  • Nitrogen for following crop

Annual Ryegrass and Oat

  • Excellent nitrogen retention in fall
  • Fast growing in fall and spring
  • Fibrous roots for compaction alleviation
  • Grazing/harvest in fall and spring possible
  • Nutrient uptake in fall and spring

Cereal Rye and Oat

  • Maximize fall and spring growth
  • Good fall cover and winter survival (rye)
  • High nutrient uptake in fall and spring
  • Potential for fall (forage oat) and spring forage harvests

Radish, Vetch and Rye

  • Enhanced biodiversity
  • Excellent winterhardiness of rye
  • Heavy nitrogen feeder in fall
  • Nitrogen fixation in spring
  • Potential for grazing in fall
  • Forage harvest possible in spring

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