Innovative Ways to Plant Fall Cover Crops
Posted: August 21, 2012
For field crop farmers it is possible to seed rye or other cover crops by spreading the cover crop with a spinner spreader as soybean leaves start to yellow. Within a week or so, the soybean leaves will fall off and cover the cover crops seed, creating a mat that keeps the seed moist and helps with germination (photo 2). It helps to have an accurate spinner spreader like this Vicon (photo 1). The results are not foolproof, but cover crops germinate under the crop canopy and then can take off after the crop is harvested.
A common non-fall time to seed cover crops is early spring. Clover and other small seeded crops can be frost seeded into winter wheat or other small grains. The clover seed works its way into the soil as the soil freezes and thaws. When the soil warms, the seed germinates. The clover remains tiny until the grain crop is harvested and then grows quickly.
For late fall vegetable crops like broccoli and cabbage, it is possible to over-seed the cover crop right before your last cultivation. The last cultivation covers up the cover crop seed. Because it is close enough to when you will harvest and the crop has a large shading canopy, the cover crop does not get big enough to interfere with the crop before harvest. To see this technique in action, visit eXtension eOrganic channel on YouTube at < http://tinyurl.com/8qlq88g >.
Tianna DuPont, Sustainable Agriculture Educator