Everyone, from the state and federal government, to the Extension agronomists, your local conservation district, and even your "green" friends and neighbors (including many people you don't know in cities you rarely visit), is telling you that you should be planting cover crops.
But there are several different types of cover crops, from single varieties to mixes of many different varieties, from several different suppliers. If the concept of growing cover crops is new to you, but you'd like to try a small plot to see how they work and what they might do for you, Cover Crop Solutions, Lititz, PA, is offering you a solution.
"Beginning at the 2014 Farm Progress Show, we're making several hundred cover crop plot trial kits available for farmers who want to seed a plot and get some answers on their own," says Dr. Tracy Blackmer, the company's director of research. "In Iowa, cereal rye has been talked about more than any other cover crop. This will give you an opportunity to see other options."
Initially, 200 of these free kits will be available in Iowa
Blackmer says 200 of these kits will be available initially in Iowa. The company will focus on covering all geographic areas of the state. Another 300 kits will be available to farmers in other states.
Thinking About A Cover Crop? Start With Developing A Plan
Taking time to design your cover crop plan will increase the successful establishment of the crop and potentially allow for improved staggering of fall harvest.
These kits will include small packets of 10 of the company's varieties and mixes, in quantities for seeding a 30–by-30-foot plot. Each kit also contains bags (about 1 pound) of each of the 10 varieties and mixes, which should be sufficient to plant a larger area in order to get a better look at each.
Also included will be plot seeding protocols, instructions for proper seeding and avoiding herbicide carryover problems and contact information should you need help. The kit will include the following seed:
- Cereal rye
- Tillage Radish®
- RootMax® Cover Crop Ryegrass
- Groff Hairy Vetch™ (and an envelope of inoculant)
- Cover Crop Solutions Oats
- Cover Crop Solutions Winter Forage Triticale
- Cover Crop Solutions Crimson Clover
- TillageMax Dover® Mix
- Tillage Max INDY® Mix
- TillageMax CHARLOTTE® Mix
Participants will receive a full report on their test results
"Farmers who verify they have their plots planted by mid-September will also have the opportunity to submit plant tissue samples for verification of the amount of nutrients the cover crops have sequestered from the soil," Blackmer says. "There will be no charge to the growers for the analysis."
Instructions for collecting and identifying samples, sample bags and shipping labels will be sent from the lab to farmers whose plots are seeded by mid-September. Results will be returned to growers and to Cover Crop Solutions. Participants will also receive a full report, comparing their results to broader results from their geographic area or state.
Trial kits for Iowa can be picked up at the Cover Crop Solutions display (Lot 1259) at the 2014 Farm Progress Show. Growers can sign up for these at the show, but since the quantity will be limited, they may be reserved now by emailing [email protected]. Unless other arrangements are made directly with Cover Crop Solutions, any reserved kits not picked up by noon on Thursday, August 27, may be reassigned to growers on the grounds who request them.