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Cover crops lead to positive results

LEXINGTON – Applying cover crops has a direct impact on yield and nutrient uptake.

These were the findings shared by Dr. Shalamar Armstrong during a recent agronomy meeting hosted by the McLean County Farm Bureau at the Illinois State University Farm near Lexington.

The assistant professor of agronomy at Purdue University, who previously taught at ISU, explained the concept behind tile monitoring stations located in a field east of Lexington.

“There is an automated sample that runs down into the control structure,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong also explained the process of planting cover crops in standing corn. He used a retro-fitted machine to drop cereal rye and radish seeds. Coverage in the fall and spring prevents erosion and leads to more nitrogen update. Based on his experiences, Armstrong believes strip till is the way to put nutrients into a crop.

Cover crops tend to be most effective after harvest when farmers typically lose quite a bit of nitrogen. An experiment in the Lake Bloomington Watershed included planting cover crops in one part of the area and not having any in another part. Through this experiment, Armstrong found out about the cover crop impact on water quality.

“In the control watershed, it’s more likely concentrations were above the EPA standard.”

Dr. Shalamar Armstrong presents information during an agronomy meeting hosted by the McLean County Farm Bureau on Tuesday / CIFN photo.

This was not surprising to Armstrong.

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