Study and develop tillage practices and timing of tillage for incorporation of cover crop plant material that will enhance nutrient availability and yield for the next crop

Project Overview

FNC09-756
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $5,990.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans

Practices

  • Crop Production: cover crops, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil chemistry

    Summary:

    [Editor’s note: Tim Kimpel passed away in June 2012. The following final report was written by Collin Etters who worked with Tim on his project.]

    PROJECT BACKGROUND
    We tested two crops, soybeans and corn, under four variables. We replicated all four variables twice for accuracy. Each variable had to deal with time of aeration. One variable was 30 days before planting, the next was 15 days before planting, the third was the day before planting and the fourth was 30 days before planting and fitted down.

    PREVIOUS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PRACTICES
    Aerating soil and controlled grazing. We have been a certified organic farm for four years. We use sustainable methods of weed control, pest managment, nutrient management, etc.

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION
    GOALS:
    * To test the impact of aeration on crops prior to planting
    * To determine how the timing of tillage (cover crops) will affect the quality and yield of crops

    PROCESS
    The four variables included:
    1. aeratoin 30 days before planting
    2. aeration 15 days before planting
    3. aeration the day before planting
    4. aeration 30 days before planting, disced over and fitted back down

    The tests we took measured the amount of carbon dioxide in the soil at certain points in each plot. We believed this would tell us the amount of microorganisms in the soil. We also believed that more microorganisms would increase crop growth and yield.

    Aeration changed the amount of oxygen in the soil for microorganisms to consume and reproduce at a healthy rate.

    The tests were concluded by a simple yield test conducted in each plot.

    RESULTS
    The results seemed to lean toward aeration 15 days prior to planting as the best choice. I believe 30 days prior was too much and the microbiology moved out or died before the crops were planted to stimulate growth; aeration the day before planting didn’t allow enough oxygen in.

    We expected aeration 30 days before planting to be more beneficial than it was.

    Next time I imagine we would lower the time before planting to 20, 15, and 10 days before.

    It is important to note that the summer of 2012 we experienced a severe drought.

    DISCUSSION
    This grant allowed the necessary equipment to measure CO2 levels.

    The CO2 levels didn’t show much of a correlation between aeration and crop yield as we expected it would.

    I would tell other farmers that two week prior aeration showed the best yield results using no fertilizer.

    PROJECT IMPACTS
    Something as simple as the timing in which they prepare their fields could make a big response in yields using no extra fertilizers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.