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Cover Crops

What To Do When the Water Doesn’t Turn Off – Managing Cover Crops in a Wet Spring

We all remember years when planting conditions were difficult due to excess moisture. Who could forget 2019, when it seemed the rain would never stop and many around the state and region dealt with delayed planting decisions? While we hope another year like 2019 never comes around again, it’s good to think ahead and plan for those “what if” scenarios. A wet spring can be even more nerve-wracking if you planted an overwintering cover crop and need to terminate it in order to plant your cash crop. What are some strategies to consider if you are confronted with this [...]

By |February 7, 2022|

New research results provide more cover crop recommendations

Updated from the 2019 edition and expanded to 16 pages, the new Guide encourages adopters to think a “systems” approach when it comes to cover crops as an integral part of a total crop rotation system. Cover crops should be considered to help reduce nutrient losses through tile drainage. Researchers from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, and Purdue University have been studying the various variables involved in a successful cover crop program. Research efforts are supported by Dan Schaefer with Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) and Eric Miller, a Piatt County farmer, who [...]

By |January 6, 2022|

More than One Way to Add to Nutrient Stewardship

Submitted by Illinois Farm Bureau Cover crops are becoming increasingly popular to manage nutrients in a corn-soybean rotation. But they are not the only practice farmers can implement to enhance nutrient stewardship. In fact, there are multiple strategies that might fit your farm and magnify your impact. To shed light on some of these strategies, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) sponsored a Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program that featured 21 projects across 28 counties this year. Several county Farm Bureaus hosted field days during the spring and summer to showcase how farmers can improve soil health and water quality to address [...]

By |September 14, 2021|

A Pretty Penny: Pennycress Cover Crop Could Play a Part in Helping Solve the Climate Puzzle

This blog was originally published to the Biodiesel Sustainability Now website. In solving a puzzle, sometimes it’s the smallest pieces that can help complete the big picture. In the climate change puzzle, a once-underappreciated plant called pennycress just may prove itself a beneficial piece. As a plant that has spent most of its evolutionary history as a weed, pennycress is gaining new interest as an oilseed crop that can help us piece together solutions to many environmental challenges. This oilseed plant, with pods shaped like a penny, captured my interest as a scientist once I began to understand both [...]

By |April 7, 2021|

Under Cover

I’ve always wanted pictures of a cover crop peeking out from underneath of a light blanket of sparkling white snow. It’s turned into a game of ‘caption this!’ – “cover crop under cover” or something else super cheesy. But really, it’s an instant visual story: a winter scene, a green crop gently flocked with snowflakes, green plants apparent where the wind had whipped the snow and left behind bare spots on the ground. It’s the perfect visual of life that messes with our standard notion of nature being dead and frozen in the winter.  A few weeks ago, I [...]

By |February 16, 2021|

Cover Crop Goals

This article was originally published in the November issue of Illinois Field & Bean magazine. Do cover crops work? That depends on the definition of “work,” according to Todd Steinacher, Illinois Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) and ILSoyAdvisor Content Coordinator. But that definition varies from farmer to farmer and even field to field. “Cover crops can help farmers achieve a variety of goals, like stabilizing soil, suppressing weeds or reducing compaction,” says Steinacher. “But the cover crop has to do what it was intended to be considered successful.” Steinacher, based in central Illinois, fields questions about cover crops every year, [...]

By |December 4, 2020|

Three Considerations for Fall Cover Crops

Over the years I have had several growers ask me “Do cover crops work?” Usually, my follow-up statement is “It depends.” Cover crops are a broad subject that can be somewhat complicated to understand at times. So it’s never too early to start doing your homework for 2021. But first and foremost, a grower must ask themselves “Why am I using a cover crop?” and “Is the selected species of cover crop going to accomplish the goals I have?” Several times I have seen growers struggle with cover crops because they were using the wrong species or seeding rates [...]

By |August 28, 2020|
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