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.
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.
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.
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.