Wet and cooler than average weather this planting season leaves many farmers with unplanted fields. Cover crops are a good option for these prevent plant acres, said Justin Fruechte, Millborn Seeds Forage & Cover Crops Specialist.
"Cover crops will maintain and improve soil health this growing season so that fields are ready for the 2015 crop," Fruechte said.
Benefits of cover crops
Along with the obvious benefits of weed and erosion control, when the right cover crops are planted, they contribute to the soil profile. "They keep the soil alive, actually increasing the soil's organic matter; they fix nitrogen, and if we plant deep-rooting plants, they will alleviate compaction and promote water infiltration," he said.
To prevent over-wintering, Fruechte promotes cover crop mixes made up of annual plants which include a blend of legumes, like clovers and vetches; radish and rye grass. "The rye grass has a fibrous root system which are the building blocks for organic matter and soil health, legumes fix nitrogen and radish are deep-rooted," he said of Nutrient Builder Mix, the customized cover crop blend Millborn Seeds' developed for prevent plant acres.
Now that soil temps have warmed up, once farmers can get into their fields to plant, Fruechte said cover crops should emerge quickly.
When fall rolls around, he encourages his clients to stick to their normal routine. "If a farmer normally tills corn or soybean acres in the fall, I encourage him to do this following the cover crop. If they are no-till, everything will decompose nicely for easy planting in 2015," he said. "The whole point of planting cover crops on prevent plant acres this summer is to set up the ground for next spring."