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3 field days explore delayed cover crop burndown benefits3 field days explore delayed cover crop burndown benefits

Upcoming planting field days in Maryland and Pennsylvania dig into the cash crop merits of holding off cover crop burndown.

April 25, 2017

2 Min Read
TOO-EARLY BURN? Maybe, if you really want to maximize cover crop benefits with more than cereal crops.

Even if you’ve already “burned” your cover crops, you still may want to catch one of three remaining dig-in-the-dirt morning sessions about delaying cover crop burndown — two in Maryland; one in southeast Pennsylvania. That way, you’ll have time to plan ahead for this fall and next spring.

No farmer wants their cover crops to grow big enough to interfere with planting, acknowledges Nate Richards, University of Maryland Extension educator. But big benefits are to be had with as few as two more weeks of growth past the average burndown date.

Those benefits include moisture retention during dry spells, more organic matter, less compaction and more rainwater infiltration, plus an increase in the amount of nitrogen that stays in the soil profile. Most recent-model planters can easily handle up to several additional weeks of grass cover crop growth.

Three on-farm planting field demonstrations are coming up in Maryland and Pennsylvania covering some of the fine points of making it happen from farmers who are successfully doing so. All three morning sessions start at 9:30 a.m. and wind up by 11 a.m.

The agenda
• 9:30 a:m. Soil health project overview with Maryland Extension’s Nevin Dawson covering soil ecosystem, structure, plus cover crop season extension, species mixes and management.

•10 a.m. Farm field demo of planter working in increased cover crop residues; evaluating success of seed depth, seed/soil contact and spacing.

•10:30 a.m. Simplified soil health card field evaluation by Dawson.

Here’s the field when and where
 April 27: Gary King’s farm, 11111 Old Princess Anne Rd., Princess Anne, Md. RSVP: fielddemosomerset.eventbrite.com

 May 5: Leslie Bowman’s farm, 8531 Grindstone Hill Rd., Chambersburg, Pa. RSVP: fielddemofranklin.eventbrite.com

 May 10: Jim Lewis’ farm, 24790 Dukes Rd., Greensboro, Md. RSVP: fielddemocaroline.eventbrite.com

For more on equipping to handle taller cover crops, click on 4 essentials roller-crimping cover crops.

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