Blogging by the Bushel
With numerous challenges over the past several years for producers, we at Mercer Landmark understand the need for a comprehensive risk management solution. We seek to provide our customers with unparalleled service to ensure maximum results.

BY: Amy Battles – Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales

It seems that more and more growers are embracing the benefits that cover crops can bring to their farm each year. Aside from improving crop yield cover crops can assist you in breaking up compaction, erosion control, lower your farm input costs, help with manure management, improve soil health, assist with weed suppression, and enhance water infiltration/percolation. When deciding what cover crop mixture will work best for you, first ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are your goals?
2. What crop are you following?
3. What crop are you going into?
4. How are you going to manage fertility?
5. What are your soils like?
6. What time of year is it?

If you are a beginning cover cropper, here are a few reliable combinations to get you started.

1. If you want to scavenge Nitrogen as well as other nutrients, Mercer Landmark recommends a mix of oats and radishes. We suggest planting 1.5 bu Oats and 2-5# of Oilseed radish/acre. This mix will also benefit from manure or around 40# N applied to achieve its maximum potential. This is one of our favorite mixes for guys just starting to experiment with cover crops because the oats and radishes will both winter kill and will provide great control over winter annuals. An oat and radish mixture will work well with both corn and soybeans.

Oats & Radishes       Nodules on Austrian Winter Peas          Soybeans planted into Cereal Rye

2. If you want to produce nitrogen and scavenge nutrients we recommend a mix of Austrian Winter Peas and Oilseed radish. There is no need to apply additional nitrogen with this mixture. This is another very popular combination to plant in front of corn, you can count on the peas to produce 60-120# of nitrogen, and the radishes will keep most of the N in the top soil root zone. The radishes will die over winter; however the peas may or may not die depending on temperatures and snow cover.

3. If you want to break up compaction, suppress weeds, and scavenge nutrients Cereal Rye or Annual Rye is a great option. A lot of growers tend to favor cereal rye because it is easier to kill. We recommend planting cereal rye in front of soybeans at 40-80#/acre (depending on timing and application method) between early September and mid-November.

When it comes to cover crops and maximizing your soil’s yield potential and health the opportunities are endless. For more information about cover crops and how they can benefit your farm talk with your local Mercer Landmark sales representative today.

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