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Planting into a growing cover

Planting green: Is this the best way to plant soybeans?

There are a million ways to plant a crop, but this way works for us

I get it -- some people won’t like what I’m about to write. We planted our soybeans “green” this year. Planting green refers to planting a primary crop like soybeans into a still growing cover crop like cereal rye. Why are we not spraying the cover crop before we plant? There are many reasons, but here are a few. Keeping the cover crops alive longer means more residue on top of the ground. More residue means less erosion.

Soybeans like residue. More residue means less water and nutrient run-off, and it also keeps the soybeans cooler when weather is scorching in the summer.

There are other biological factors that improve when using cover crops, but we started using cover primarily to lessen erosion.

Many farmers believe cover crops are a fad. That’s ok. There are a million ways to plant a crop. Have you ever thought that tillage is a fad?

‘Topsoil storms’

For our ground, I believe that cover crops provide a long-term solution to soil health. “Soil health” is a hot topic in farm magazines these days, but I feel it has merit. We have seen car wrecks on I-80 in Nebraska because of dust. We even experienced dust storms in central Illinois last summer. Instead of dust storms, we need to call these topsoil storms. Cover crops sure didn’t cause those storms - the culprit was bare tilled soil.

I’m guilty of contributing to this problem, however, because we still till some fields.

When it comes to the bottom line, we haven’t seen less primary crop yield because of planting cover crops. If our bottom line changes, we may rethink spending the extra money on covers. But for now, we love planting green and taking advantage of more residue and soil protection.

What’s the best way that you plant soybeans?

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