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Cover crop trials examined

Local farmers examine a soybean/cover crop field near Chatsworth last week / CIFN photo.

CHATSWORTH – John Wilken was interested in cover crops so he decided to have different trials in his soybean field north of Chatsworth in Livingston County.

Trials include seeding rates of cereal rye and different termination dates.

“The earlier it gets established, the bigger it is going to be,” Wilken told a group of farmers attending the Vermilion Headwaters field day last week.

Wilken put down 45 pounds in part of the field and 65 pounds nearby. He tried inoculant but is not sure if it is going to work. His termination dates were April 28 and May 13. The rest of his beans were “planted green” into cover crops.

Randy Aberle of RA Seeding Solutions, an area Precision Planting dealer, assisted in the trials with the use of SmartFirmers on the planter to measure data.

“The biggest things we saw were temperature and moisture differences,” Aberle said.

Soil under the later killed cover crops was very warm at planting but also dry. The April terminated cover crop soil was six to eight degrees cooler but had slightly more moisture.

“There is almost a 15-20 degree temperature swing from the later killing to when there was no cover crop at all,” Aberle added.

Wilken’s trial field is located at the intersection of 1200 North Road and 3500 East Road near Chatsworth. The field contained corn in 2017 and the cereal rye was planted Nov. 8 with the current soybeans planted May 18. An air seeder was utilized for the cover crop planting with light disking for seed incorporation. The group 3.0 beans were planted at 155,000 seeds per acre.

The recent field day also included an evening presentation from Dr. Nathan Kleczewski from the University of Illinois on soybean cyst nematodes and how cover crops impact them. Following Kleczewski’s talk, a local farmer panel discussed strip-till successes and challenges.

Sponsors of the Vermilion Headwaters Field Day included: American Farmland Trust, Soil Health Partnership, Livingston County Farm Bureau, USDA-NRCS and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts from Livingston and Ford counties.

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