During a session on “Taking Cover Crops Mainstream” at the ASTA CSS/Seed Expo this week,, a panel of representatives from across the industry spoke about their experiences with cover crops, the work they’ve done on either their farm or in their business, and the impact cover crops can have on soil health. Two growers who integrate cover crops on their farms sat on the panel, as well as three industry representatives. Hear from three of them below.
Jim Herr, with Beck’s Hybrids, spoke about the research on cover crops that Beck’s is implementing to benefit their customers. As a seed company, it’s important to them that they are aware of what their customers are looking for. Beck’s is committed to doing practical on-farm research to help their growers make decisions about which cover crop practices would work best in their individual operations.”We’ve spent a lot of time looking at cover crops and how they can benefit customers. In the process we’ve learned there is a lot of desire to learn more about cover crops and if they are able to fit into to their operation. They want real life information to make those guiding decisions.”
Interview with Jim Herr, Beck's Hybrids
Rodney Rulon, a grower from Indiana, has implemented no-till practices on their family farm for a number of years. This ultimately led to implementing cover crops about 10 years ago as a way to continuously improve soil health. “As we developed our no-till system, we started looked for ways to enhance the system while building the biology of the soil. After 10 years we seemed to be getting stagnant and sought out new ways to enhance the soil; cover crops seemed to be a good fit for us. Since we’ve started using cover crops we’ve seen a lot of improvements in soil tilth and our organic matter has been improved, as have water holding capacity and yield. We’ve done side-by-side trials and cover crops have time and time again produced more bushels.”
Interview with Rodney Rulon, Indiana Farmer
Don Guinnop, a farmer from Marshall, Illinois, also serves on the Illinois Soybean Board of Directors and has for 6 years. Don utilizes cover crops on his farm in the way of wheat and clover and encourages other growers to start small in cover crops to learn what works for each individual operation. “In recent years with water quality issues, nutrient management issues, and the mandate on the Mississippi Watershed to control nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, it has become a priority for the Illinois Soybean Association to help its members and checkoff payers to address those issues. Try 1 Thing [from ISA] encourages farmers to pick out a best management practice that will help you control one issue on your farm and try one thing for one year. Don’t try a lot of things on a lot acres, this is a learning experience. Cover crops have to fit in your operation so what works on my farm may not work on your farm. Economics will always be the bottom line.”
Interview with Don Guinnup, Illinois Soybean Association