Soil health specialist says dry conditions have complicated cover cropping
Some farmers new to cover crops might be having second thoughts after another dry growing season.
University of Minnesota Extension soil health specialist Anna Cates says cover crops generally take up a lot of water in the spring and fall.
“At a time when we have a lot of water. It rains a lot (and) the soil is holding a lot of water (so) it’s great to have something growing and reducing that a little bit. But the last couple years that reduction has kind of left us short for cash crop water supply, and that’s been a real hardship (and) we’ve seen poor stands because of it.”
She tells Brownfield farmers who have been using cover crops for several years or more don’t seem too concerned.
“For people who have seen the benefits over time, they say it’s 100 percent worth it. But if this is your first year and you barely saw any stand and then you had trouble terminating it in the spring, and then you saw a cash crop yield drag, that was not a great experience.”
Cates says early termination of the cover crop and lower seeding rates can help mitigate the challenges dry weather presents.