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Options For Handling Soil After Poor Crop Comes Off

Options For Handling Soil After Poor Crop Comes Off
Think about how to restart the system for next year.

A farmer who had harvested 5.5 bushels of corn per acre on 80 acres the day before was running a vertical tillage tool over the field when I stopped by to see him. I wound up riding for a few passes. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought the field had been chopped. There was very little residue in the form of leaves, and they were already drying up, lying between the rows.

Where's the residue? A crop like this will leave little residue behind.

The farmer was running about 10 miles per hour and a couple to three inches deep with the vertical tillage tool. Why was he running over it if there was little residue anyway? Late lambsquarters had broken through, especially where there was very poor corn. He was attempting to knock them down and prevent them from getting larger.

While he's not sure what he'll do next, he's considering spreading a rye cover crop on the field if he can obtain the rye seed. Reports we get say you can still find cereal rye seed, but expect to pay somewhat more than you could have bought it for during the summer. Demand is increasing rapidly.

The farmer has two reasons for considering seeding rye. His main goal would be to capture nitrogen that was applied and obviously not used. Once inside the growing rye, N would eventually be returned to the soil after the rye was killed next spring. He wouldn't get all of it back the first year, however. If he does nothing, he likely won't get any of it back – it will be gone by spring.

Second, he planted into standing rye for another farmer this spring, using no-till planting. He was impressed by how clean the field was, free of weeds.

He also has seeded rye successfully before. He's considering spreading it through a fertilizer spreader, then making a very light, very quick pass with his vertical tillage tool to incorporate the seed. When he did that before, he achieved an excellent stand.

TAGS: Tillage
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