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A Clover Cover Crop Worth Talking About!A Clover Cover Crop Worth Talking About!

People told this farmer his clover cover crop wouldn't work, but he proved them wrong, at least this year.

Tom Bechman 1

October 29, 2014

2 Min Read

Improving soil and maintaining profits on his farm at the same time is what Roger Wenning is all about. He farms near Greensburg in Decatur County.

Related: Farmer Tries Seeding Cover Crops with Nitrogen Applicator

The former Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Supervisor of the Year has worked with cover crops for several years. Now he's tweaking the system by trying other cropping combinations, always with a look toward if the soil can be improved, and if the new practice will pay for itself and leave some extra profit behind.

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Last fall he decided to plant wheat on a rolling field. He wanted to go for top yield, so he seeded about 1.6 million seeds per acre. That's on the high side for wheat seeding recommendations in a normal wheat production system.

He got a good stand of wheat and it survived the winter. But he didn't stop there. He frost-seeded clover into the wheat in February. It's an old practice, but many people told him it wouldn't work with a stand of wheat that thick. It worked in the old days when farmers weren't pushing populations and looking for 100 bushel-range wheat yields.

Related: Cover Crops and SCN: What's the Connection?

Well, it was a good year for clover, with cool temperatures and rain. That's a part of the equation which can't be overlooked. Nevertheless, Wenning not only got a good stand of red clover, he harvested 18 big round bales of the new crop clover off the four-acre trial patch after harvesting healthy yields of wheat and straw earlier in the summer. And as you can tell by the picture, he has excellent regrowth going into winter.

His goal is to no-till corn into the clover next spring after burning it down before planting. "I'm interested in how much nitrogen it can produce for the corn crop," he says.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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