Cover Crop Field Day Draws Crowd from Four States – Annual Ryegrass Pits Impressive

Yesterday, at Terry Taylor’s farm in Geff, IL., more than 80 people from four states saw impressive results based on three pits dug into Taylor’s corn and soybean fields.

The first pit was strictly no-till, without a cover crop. Pits #2 and 3 have been in continuous cover crop  (annual ryegrass or hairy vetch) for at least 6 years. Here are what the pits illustrated:

  • Annual ryegrass has deep roots that bust through compaction. It sequesters N, and leaves very little residue. The roots add greatly to increasing organic matter in the soil, while eliminating erosion and nutrient runoff.
  • Hairy vetch is less agressive with breaking through compaction but it may be more valuable as a quick way to invite earthworms and other activity to build organic matter.

The day was so successful, said Taylor, that people stayed until well after dark discussing the fine points of cover crop management. So successful that, two men who had attended came back with their pickups filled with others who hadn’t been at the field day, to see first hand the value of cover crops. Taylor accommodated the early morning visit as evidence that cover crop fever continues to impact others.

For more information, contact Terry at

“The great thing about field days like this,” he said, “is that we can react to questions people have, rather than a canned classroom talk. These folks weren’t brand new to cover crops and no-till. They wanted specific information about the value of annual ryegrass and hairy vetch – compared to strictly no-till. We were able to tell them how cover crop varieties are like a menu to choose from; there are lots of choices and, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish on your farm, certain cover crops will be better than others.”


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