2015 No-till corn with Gravity Irrigation

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2015 No-till corn with Gravity Irrigation

Post by Bio Farmer on Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:20 pm

2015 was our first year delving into cover crops and no-till planting. In addition to our late fall cover crop and no-till corn I talked about in this thread (Sprinkler No-Till) we also had a summer cover crop following the pea harvest in 2014 on a gravity irrigated field. Without knowing what to expect when irrigating a no-till field we focused on keeping the corrugates free of plants and debris. So Let's dive in to the particulars.

The 2014 pea harvest finished up in late July on this field leaving the field nearly bare of residue. With a conventional corrugator I cleaned up the corrugates and watered the field prior to planting my cover with the goal of softening a rather dry, hard piece of earth. In early August I pulled in on the previous beds with our conventional Monosem corn planter and seeded my cover crop. My mix was around 15 lbs Sunn Hemp, 2 lbs daikon radish, and 2 lbs red clover. No doubt the first question is how I managed to plant 3 different seeds with a row planter.

I used the seed plates in the main planter designed for sugar beets to plant the Sunn Hemp with around a 4" spacing. The daikon and clover seed was blended together and run through the Microsem units (dry chemical metering). The hemp seed was placed in the seed trench around 1.5" deep while the clover and daikon was dribbled around the open seed trench just in front of the closing wheels. The action from our Schlaegel closing wheels incorporated the small seed for us. By planting the cover with this type of planter we were able to keep any plants out of our corrugates for ease of irrigation.

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Cover Growth

Post by Bio Farmer on Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:28 pm

The Sunn Hemp really didn't have enough growing time that fall to produce anything of value. It is a very warm weather species and with 2 months of growing time in August and September it managed to get a spindly 2' tall and died at the first puff of frost. I don't know exactly when this would need to be sown for decent growth but I would guess around early July at a minimum in this area.

Heading into late fall it appeared all I had growing from my cover mix was a healthy stand of daikon with a few Sunn Hemp sticks poking out of the canopy. The daikons grew very well into winter completely shading the tops of the 30" rows with their broad leaves. The roots were thick and poking out of the ground 6" or so.

There were a few visible red clover plants mixed in with the daikons but it appeared the stand was rather poor and competition from the fast-growing radishes was choking them out.

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Planting Time

Post by Bio Farmer on Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:44 pm

As spring arrived, the condition of my cover crop proved to be far different than expected heading into winter. The daikons had winter-killed as expected but the red clover was thriving under the radishes. It appears that the daikon canopy provided a sort of tent for the seedling clover during the winter, shielding it from the cold and snow. As soon as the soil warmed up, the clover took off growing great!



By planting time in late April the growth was quite impressive.



This spring was particularly dry so prior to planting I irrigated the field to ensure uniform moisture for the corn. Experience and research has taught me terminating the cover crop earlier may have conserved the necessary moisture but this worked too. We then used our newly modified Monosem planter to no-till the corn crop right next to the rows of clover.



This is what the rows looked like with a row of corn just to the side of our clover rows. To accomplish this offset, the planter units were slid 1.5" to one side on the bar when planting the cover crop. By leaving the planter configured just the same and driving the opposite direction for corn planting, this created a 3" total offset between the corn and clover.

As you can see, the clover was still green when I planted it. Once the corn was planted I sprayed the field with glyphosate and 2,4-D to terminate my cover crop and weeds (hence the clover drooping in the pictures).

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Summer Update

Post by Bio Farmer on Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:48 pm



The corn clearly came up well and is off to a great start. You can see the row of terminated clover alongside the corn. Also notice all the residue is confined to the beds leaving a nice, clean corrugate for irrigation.

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Re: 2015 No-till corn with Gravity Irrigation

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