If you haven't grown cover crops recently, you've at least read about them. They're the rage in conservation circles, and with good reason. Indiana farmers have found they're a tool which can rebuild soils and improve what's loosely called soil health.
The only thing is it's not a new idea. Your father or grandfather, or your grandfather's father, likely grew wheat or something over the winter on at least some fields. It helped cover the soil, but it also helped build the soil through loosening it and adding organic matter.
Here are a series of statements. Some are from the August 16, 1952, issue of Prairie Farmer. Some were made on Mike Starkey's farm near Brownsburg in late October.
Starkey, Jared Chew with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Hans Kok, a soil conservation consultant, were talking to visitors which included staffers from the Nature Conservancy and an Indiana state senator, in a field drilled a month earlier with cover crops.
To get started, number your paper 1 to 12. Then write "a" for the 1952 article and "b" for the visit to Mike Starkey's farm.
1. "Fall seeding of rye in cornfields with airplanes may become an important practice. Various trial seedings made last year were fairly successful."
2. "Annual ryegrass is this farmer's cover crop of choice. He believes cover crops have helped him improve weed control and lower weed control costs."
3: "Improving biology within the soil helps improve soil health. Earthworms aren't native to the U.S., but they are important in improving soil health. So are a number of other smaller types of worms."
4: "The rye grew more where the nitrogen had been applied, but (the researcher) didn't think the added growth justified the expenditure for fertilizer."
5: "Some people who have tried it say a good catch only half the time would justify the expenditure. Of course, it is possible to lose your seed. Success is dependent on fall rains."
6: "Cover crops are smaller when the fall is very dry. However, if there is enough rain to get them started, you will still see benefit. Roots even on small to medium-sized plants in the fall can go down two feet."
7: "A cover crop of rye can furnish a lot of green organic matter to be plowed under for next year's crop. This benefit, along with erosion prevention, can well justify attempts to get a rye seeding in corn. Both rye and ryegrass can be seeded this way."
8: "He looked at me and said, 'Are you going to plant into that?' We did, and we had a good crop."
9: "There have been some attempts to build drills or seeders on high-clearance machinery."
10: "I prefer drilling my five-way mix after soybean harvest to help get a better stand."
11: "Based on his findings, you can increase organic matter about half a percent in five or six years using cover crops in the system."
12: "Many agronomists feel that agriculture will move forward as soon as we are able to get a cover crop in our corn and beans for over-winter protection."
OK, you may have nailed some, but did you get them all? Some things have changed in 63 years, but some things haven't!
Here is the key:
1. (a) 1952 article (author not named)
2. (b) Hans Kok, 2015
3. (b) Hans Kok, 2015
4. (a) 1952 article
5. (a) 1952 article
6. (b) Hans Kok, 2015
7. (a) 1952 article
8. (b) Mike Starkey, talking about the first time Kok visited his farm
9: (a) 1952 article
10: (b) Mike Starkey, 2015
11. (b) Hans Kok talking about Mike Starkey's no-till and cover crop system
12. (a) 1952 article