Using Oilseed as Biological Plow to Reduce Soil Compaction and Recycle Nutrients
This spring I had 8 different covers (oats, rye, diakon oilseed radish-drilled, buckwheat, hairy vetch, alternating rows of Austrian winter pea and diakon radish, cowpeas, newlon peas, and Austrian winter pea) into which I planted corn with a White Planter on April 27th. Before the planting each cover had a soil density reading, a soil compaction reading and compaction information from some of the covers. There was a check for earthworms with the most worms found in soils of radish and winter peas planted in alternating rows. Corn emergence was evaluated and that information is found on the yield data sheet attached. A chlorophyll meter was used to determine the amount of nitrogen to be applied for all covers. Leaf tissue samples were sent to a lab to evaluate available nitrogen for use to compare with meter readings. I applied nitrogen according to the recommendations of the meter and lab results. The corn was harvested in late October with Gleaner R62 combine using yield monitor with GPS to record data.
The information of corn yield and return per plot is on the attached 2009 data sheet. I have learned that oats, rye and buckwheat save the soil and build tilth but didn’t retain nutrients to lower fertilizer input cost. With radish and Austrian winter peas alternating rows, I found that N-P-K stored for the next crop significantly reduced the fertilizer needed. This was determined by taking soil samples and sending plants to be evaluated for nutrients. I also learned that radish and winter peas grow more vigorously when planted in alternating rows.
I have a late summer plot repeating the covers used this first year and have added a plot evaluating 10 different radish covers and chuckling vetch. Starting September 15 thru October 15 a plot was started planting every two weeks: Austrian Winter Pea with alternating rows of radish to evaluate late fall growth and see if they over winter. Another plot has 8 varieties of vetch and 2 varieties of crimson clover. These will all have late winter soil tests and nitrogen studies for corn crop 2010. They were funded by grant monies.
I shared information on September 1 at the Ohio No-till field day in Radnor, OH. Using poster pictures as a visual aid and a shovel in the soil, I explained the information gathered from the plots on my home farm. Approximately 150 people attended from a Tri state (IN, MI, OH) area. In late September there was a twilight tour on the farm showing growing corn, soils pit and the cover crop plots for 2010. 70 attended from 5 states with many good questions and a lot of interest. Many farmers and seed representatives have visited the farm and plots for info and visual tours. Classes from Ohio State University and employees of SCS and NRCS have toured the farm along with Cisco Seed representatives and Texas A and M professor. Articles have been written in Successful Farming, Country Journal, The Ohio Farmer, AGCO Advantage and info and photos will be included in the January – February 2010 issue of Resource, the magazine of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. I will be presenting at the National No-till Conference in Iowa, the No-till on the Plains Conference in Kansas, the Tri State meeting in Pa., International Brookside Lab meeting in OH, Innovative Farmer meeting in Michigan, the CTC meeting at Ada, OH and there will be farm tours on the home farm.