Experimenting with Cover Crops

microbes breaking down crop residue

Rye cover crop

Farming is constantly evolving and in an effort to continue to enhance our soil health, weed control, and water holding capacity we have started to experiment with cover crops. In the picture you can see rye that was seed in august of 2016 with an airplane while the previous corn crop was still in the field. After harvest and greater exposure to light the rye was able to establish some initial growth. After winter the rye begins to grow again developing roots which increase microbial activity in the soil. Soil microbes help to break down crop residue and make it into valuable nutrients for thefollowing crop to use. The rye will be killed around the time we are ready to plant soybeans into this particular field. The leftover rye residue will serve as armor to protect the soil. It will also serve as a weed barrier making it harder for weeds to grow. Lastly it will help to maintain soil temperature and hold moisture. We are excited to work with this new system and carry it through this growing season to learn more about the benefits that using cover crops might have.

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