Shannon Zezulu, state resource conservationist with the Natural resources Conservation Service, has put together a team of NRCS specialists across Indiana to address various concerns that can arise in conservation tillage systems. They are assisted in assembling information by the Indiana Soil Conservation Partnership.
Here are four points you may want to keep in mind, depending upon your individual crop operation.
1. Consider how a global positioning system (GPS) is useful for much more than just planting.
GPS can be a very useful tool for keeping track of any issues in your fields as you begin scouting. Fields should be scouted for erosion concerns, insects, weeds, and other pests. Share the GPS locations of these issues with your local crop protection provider and local NRCS office to develop the best course of action.
2. Do you expect slugs this year?
Factors that increase slug pressure include: mild winters, cool growing conditions of the corn/soybean crop, and prolonged periods of favorable temperatures with even rainfall. Scouting your fields before and after planting is crucial to finding and managing slugs and other pests early. For more information on controlling your slug population, contact your local Purdue University Extension office.
3. You have one shot to set your crops up for success!
Give them their best shot with a no-till system and a properly set up planter. A no-till system with cover crops increases soil tilth and soil aggregation, and prevents crusting. All these are key to proper planting and uniform emergence. Also, making sure your planter is set up for handling residue, planting the seed at the proper depth and spacing, and opening and closing the furrow around the seed, all the while minimizing compaction in your system will improve your crops’ success.
4. If you have wheat how you will handle the straw?
There is value to baling it, but consider leaving the straw to add organic matter, keep soil temperatures cooler during the summer, keep valuable moisture in the soil, and prevent soil erosion. This is also a great time to add a cover crop mix of legumes, grasses and brassicas for even more benefits. Adding 1% organic matter equates to adding an inch of moisture during dry periods. Can you afford not to have that?