The NRCS just released new cover crop termination guidelines. Recently, a webinar was held to discuss the new changes and answer questions. To access the archived webinar, “Cover Crops and Crop Insurance: Questions and Answers on USDA’s Cover Crop Termination Guides”, follow this link to the YouTube video. Most of the changes involve the termination guidelines for areas of the country with a summer fallow practice. The termination zone for Wisconsin is Zone 4 and the guidelines have not changed from the June 2013 to the December 2013 guideline release. To see the new termination guidelines released in December 2013 from the USDA-NRCS, go here. For the previous termination guidelines released in June 2013, go here.
In addition, the USDA’s Risk Management Agency just published a new cover crops fact sheet outlining their policy from a crop insurance standpoint. To access their fact sheet, go here. According to the RMA, a cover crop can be harvested for forage or grazed without violating your crop insurance policy. However, it is important to remember that when removing a cover crop as a forage crop the herbicide label restrictions must be followed when feeding to livestock. Also, removing biomass for forage may limit the benefits that you may expect for a cover crop. Researchers looking at crimson clover managed as a cover crop with no removal versus a spring forage harvest found that corn grain and yields were higher in the fields with the cover crop compared to the forage crop 1. However, in another study with cereal rye (Secale cereale) in a corn grain system, removal of the aboveground rye biomass did not affect the subsequent corn crop yield 2. Aside from yield, removing biomass for forage can impact soil health. In a 5 year study of three cover crops in a corn grain system, removal of the cover crop biomass reduced soil organic carbon and nitrogen 3.
Holderbaum, J.F.; Decker, A.M.; Meisinger, J.J.; Mulford, F.R.; Vough, L.R. Harvest management of a crimson clover cover crop for no-tillage corn production. 1990 Agronomy Journal 82(5): 918-923.
Tollenaar, M.; Mihajlovic, M.; Vym, T.J. Corn growth following cover crops: influence of cereal cultivar, cereal removal, and nitrogen rate. 1993 Agronomy Journal 85(2): 251-255.
Kuo, S.; Jellum, E.J. Influence of winter cover crop and residue managment on soil nitrogen availability and corn. 2002 Agronomy Journal 94(3): 501-508.
Are you looking for ways to expand your cover crop* seeding window? Here in Wisconsin, the cover crop species options after harvest are rather limited. For instance, this year in Columbia county, planting a cover crop into a field planted in corn for grain on June 1 with a projected harvest date of October 15 results in only one choice with no freeze risk to establishment according to the Midwest Cover Crops Council selector tool- cereal (winter) rye.
Seeding a cover crop into an existing corn crop before harvest is a strategy to extend the number of cover crop species that will establish good stands before frost. Farmers in Indiana have been using modified high-clearance sprayers to seed cover crops before the main crop harvest. Want to learn more? Dan Perkins, an Indiana Extension agent, provides a detailed discussion in his video.
*What is a cover crop? It is a crop planted between main crops that is NOT intended for harvest. For a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of different cover crop species, consult the Midwest Cover Crops Council website or “Managing Cover Crops Profitably”, for a free pdf copy go here. Also, the Midwest Cover Crops Council in partnership with the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center have produced a handy pocket guide to cover crops. To purchase, visit this site.
PeRK by the University of Nebraska, an app for pesticide record keeping available for Android and iPhone.
SoilWeb for Android and iPhone. The California Soil Resource Laboratory designed this app to use data from the USDA-NCRS to identify your soil type based on your phone’s GPS location. If you haven’t bought a smartphone, you can still access the data at the Web Soil Survey.
Nitrogen Calculator, University of Illinois, covering Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
MixTank by Precision Laboratories is free but a fee is charged for integrated weather data.
The Northern Plains Integrated Pest Management Guide was developed collaboratively between University of Minnesota Extension, South Dakota State University, Kansas State University, Iowa State University Extension, North Dakota State University Extension, University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension, and the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center.
Farm Fuel Budget by North Dakota State University for Android only.
FuelLog, by Simon Morgenthaler, will track fuel consumption, miles, maintenance and much more for your vehicles. Free and fee versions available.