2017 No-till Corn

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2017 No-till Corn

Post by Bio Farmer on Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:28 pm

We set ourselves up to have 50 acres of no-till corn for the 2017 season. All the acres had the same treatment following the 2016 pea seed crop. The peas were harvested around the 15th of July but the cover crop was not planted until around the 10th of August (far from ideal, I know).

Our cover crop mix was 30 lbs Sudan grass, 2 lbs daikon, 2 lbs red clover, and 10 lbs common vetch. The idea was to have the Sudan produce some high-carbon cover while the radishes provided quick ground cover and weed suppression. Those plants would then winter-kill while the clover and vetch were left to take advantage of the early spring months and fix some nitrogen.

Due to the late planting date and a cool Autumn, the Sudan grass did not provide the bulk residue we expected before it frosted but everything else looks good heading into winter.

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Re: 2017 No-till Corn

Post by Bio Farmer on Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:07 pm

The red clover did not do well in this circumstance. I think it was planted too deep and failed to make much of a stand. I think if I were to use this mix again I would maybe sprinkle the clover on top of the ground somehow or maybe dribble it out of the small seeder on my drill rather than mix it with the vetch and plant it 1.5" dep.

Common vetch survived the winter fairly well. In some places, like the photo, it did very well. Other places it was considerable thinner. It appears there was vetch plants in those thin areas at one time but they died. I can probably blame this problem on the 2' of snow cover this past winter but it will certainly be worth watching in the future.

This photo is of the common vetch in the thickest stand on the farm just as I arrived to terminate it with a blend of 2,4-D and RoundUp. This just happened to be a gravity-irrigated field but the sprinkler field had some patches that were just as good. The bigger plants you see sprinkled around in the background are some forage brassicas that just happened to be mixed in some remnant seed from the past year.


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Re: 2017 No-till Corn

Post by Bio Farmer on Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:16 pm

As you can see, my cover termination was very successful, leaving no competition for my upcoming corn crop. I am still disappointed in the bulk residue left by my cover crop, especially the sudan grass. I can see I will still need to dammer-dike this field because of the low residue and hillsides.

The topsoil is in great condition at planting time with some cover, many worm holes, and many worm castings. When digging seed behind the planter to check depth and population there has been a live worm in every 18" trench. It sure makes me feel successful to see that much activity for my seedling crop.



With the surplus of rain this spring, I was surprised to find these no-till fields never really got muddy like many neighboring conventional fields. The ground got moist for sure but it did not prevent planting very long after the rains had ended. We didn't see any slabs, open trenches, or clods normally associated with planting in wet conditions. These factors allowed us to plant our corn on time despite a wet spring.


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