Field Crop News
Farmers using a cover crop seeder developed by Penn State agricultural scientists may eventually need only a single trip across the field to accomplish what takes most farmers three passes and several pieces of equipment to do...
Farmers using a cover-crop seeder developed by Penn State agricultural scientists may eventually need only a single trip across the field to accomplish what takes most farmers three passes and several pieces of equipment to do. Pennsylvania farmers are increasingly interested in growing cover crops, but the time, cost and late fall harvest of corn and other crops often limit their use, said Gregory Roth, professor of agronomy. The seeder can help farmers, especially small operations, save time and money by condensing multiple tasks into one trip through a no-till field. It also would allow farmers to seed fields that lacked cover crops due to late season and cost concerns.
We have heard about and seen a few cereal rye fields that either did not get harvested for forage or have not yet been sprayed or managed as a cover crop. We had a number of experiments over the last several years focused on managing cereal rye in no-till soybean where we roll the rye with a roller-crimper followed by soybean planting. We have included herbicides in this system and also experimented with organic no-till.
Penn State Extension's On-Farm Research Program and Crop Management Team collected cover crop biomass samples from the statewide network of demonstration sites in November 2010. Results of the biomass sampling are now available by individual site and pooled across sites and cover crop mixtures. Forage quality samples were collected at the Lebanon, Montgomery, and Dauphin County sites for the annual ryegrass + crimson clover, oats + cereal rye, and cereal rye + tillage radish mixtures.
Rye cover crops are one of the fastest growing cover crops in the spring. To ensure high quality ryelage harvest, producers must have harvest equipment ready to go. Quality of ryelage rapidly decreases with maturity and one day in harvest delay can make the difference between high quality and average to poor quality forage. If producers rely on custom harvesters, these individuals need to be contacted now to plan approximate harvest schedules.
With tight economic conditions there has been increased interest in using legume cover crops to supply N to corn. While this has not been the subject of a large amount of research, a recent summary of the available research has shown that red clover established in wheat or oats and then left to grow as a cover crop until the next season can contribute between 45 and 155 lb N/A to the next corn crop.