Mike Plumer put in cover crop demonstration plots at the Farm Progress Show this year. Imagine, growing a test plot on the no-till Fairgrounds (Decatur, IL) in wheat mulch. Imagine planting a cover crop in the Spring and hoping to get enough moisture to show to people a good stand in August!
As an agricultural practice, it stinks. But as a educational tool, it was a great success.
“We had 18 field plots (20 x 40′) with all sorts of cover crops. Among them were annual ryegrass, crimson clover, cereal rye, vetch, oats and radish,” Plumer said. “We only got one-tenth of an inch of rain in the weeks running up to the Fair, but thankfully there was good sub-soil moisture.
Plumer said the reception by the public was extremely good. He said that the majority of attendees were not new to cover crops and that many came with very specific, sophisticated questions about cover crop varieties, seed mixtures, planting options and management techniques.
“Acceptance of cover crops has grown tremendously in the past few years,” he added. The Conservation Technology Information Center estimates an increase of 350% in just the past four years.
With corn and soybeans coming off the fields late this fall, more producers have resorted to aerial or broadcast seeding of cover crops into standing corn and soybeans. Click here for more information about that practice.