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Crimson clover should mean nitrogen available later in the season.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

June 1, 2014

2 Min Read

Your idea of a good-looking seedbed and Mike Starkey's may not be the same. To Starkey, Brownsburg, it's planting into cover crops, particularly with crimson clover mixed in. Starkey is 100% no-till and cover crop on his farm.

"You really should have been there," he says. "We had a good mix with several species, but the crimson clover was beautiful. By this stage it has to be producing lots of nitrogen."

That nitrogen will be available to the crop later in the season, he says.


More people are starting to include crimson clover and other legumes, including Austrian winter peas, in their cover crop mix as more people try to fine-tune the benefits they can receive. If growing your own nitrogen is one of the benefits, then crimson clover is a candidate for the mix, Starkey says.

Related: 12 Ways to Boost Cover Crop Performance

He says he was able to plant through the cover crop over the past two weeks with few if any issues. His planter is set up to handle no-till conditions. He uses specialized Dawn equipment to create a seedbed for corn when he is planting.

Starkey says no-till makes sense, even though it didn't work the first time he tried it. "We didn't have the right equipment, the right seed with vigor – we just weren't ready.

"The next time we tried it we had quality equipment and better seed and other input products and we've been doing it ever since. The cover crop helps improve the soil health," he says.

That means it takes no-till one step further, Starkey believes. He is an avid supporter of improving soil health and the benefits that it can bring to the soil.

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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