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.
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.