- Agronomic: barley, canola, millet, oats, rapeseed, rye, soybeans, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Vegetables: radishes (culinary)
- Animals: bees, bovine, swine
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: catch crops, cover crops, no-till, nutrient cycling, application rate management, conservation tillage
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, farm-to-institution, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
- Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil physics
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, new business opportunities
Utilizing homegrown nitrogen from legume cover crops (winter peas, crimson clover, cowpeas, hairy vetch, Sunn Hemp) to improve nitrogen use efficiency in corn production and improve soil quality with associated environmental benefits.
Dave Brandt Farm, 6100 Basil Western Road, Carroll, OH 43112-9628 in Fairfield County. Farm 994 Acres in Violet and surrounding townships of corn, soybeans and wheat with 7 acres of vegetables on predominately Bennington soils Farmed mostly no-till since 1972 and starting experimenting with cover crops in 1978. I use a wide variety of cover crops including several legumes for producing homegrown nitrogen for corn production. Legumes for raising homegrown nitrogen include Austrian winter peas, hairy vetch, crimson clover, cowpeas, and I am starting to experiment with Sunn Hemp. Other grass cover crops include cereal rye, Sorghum Sudan grass, and annual ryegrass. Use many two-way and three way mixes that include Tillage radish (oil seed radish), Phacilia, buckwheat, and some turnips and cabbages. Plant most of my cover crops after winter wheat to increase top and root growth along with nitrogen before going to corn. Last several years, I have raised over 200 bushel corn with only 20 pounds of commercial fertilizer. I reduced my chemical inputs for fertilizer by 50 to 70 percent and my herbicides by 50 percent by using cover crops and no-till However, I have never done this as a research trial and I never had many checks. I want to conduct this research using standard research methods to verify my results but I need some help in paying for the nitrogen tests. I will work with Ohio State University Extension (Randall Reeder, Retired) to conduct this research so that it may be verified. Have spoken at many meetings throughout the Country about cover crops and no-till including National No-till Conference, Conservation Tillage Conference (Ohio Northern, Ada, Ohio), and No-till on the Plains.
Jim Hoorman farm is located at 22133 Township Road 60, Jenera, Ohio 45841 in Hancock County, Ohio. I am farming 40 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat in replicated plots on Pewamo and Blout soil types. Experimenting with using legume cover crops like Austrian winterpeas, cowpeas, Sunn Hemp and crimson clover to reduce commercial fertilizer usage. Also using cereal rye with soybeans to reduce weeds like marestale and reduce soybean diseases. I am interested in experimenting with Sunn Hemp as a living cover in corn to produce 200 pounds of homegrown nitrogen. In Brazil, Sunn hemp is planted 3 weeks after the corn and is the sole source of nitrogen for the corn crop. The Sunn Hemp will start to grow above the corn after the corn tassels and then will shoot a seed head. In Brazil they harvest the Sunn Hemp seed above the corn and several weeks later harvest the corn for grain. However, they receive about 60 inches of rainfall so we are not sure that that same system will work in Ohio. I am also an Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator in Mercer County Ohio and give talks on cover crops throughout Ohio and the Midwest on using cover crops to improve soil quality and water quality. I am interested in finding cover crops that provide not only homegrown nitrogen, but also improve water quality and provide other environmental and economical benefits.
A big issue for farmers is reducing the cost of commercial fertilizer, especially nitrogen. The current cost of nitrogen (December 1, 2011) is about $0.75 per pound of actual N. Side-dress nitrogen is an essential element to producing high corn yields but our nitrogen use efficiency is only around 30-40%. The majority of nitrogen is processed by the microbes in the soil before being utilized by corn, so soil health/quality is an important component of improving nitrogen efficiency. Our research project improves soil health/quality by feeding the microbes with protein production from efficiently growing legumes. We plan to study five legumes using two different studies. The first study uses Sun hemp (Crotaleria juncea) with a delayed planting in the corn. Three Sunn hemp treatments will be evaluated with two checks (no-till plus 150# N and conventional till plus 150# N). Sunn Hemp (10 pounds per acre) will be directly planted between the corn rows two, three, and four weeks after the corn is planted to reduce competition from Sunn hemp. Sunn hemp has a deep taproot and an aggressive growth pattern. Dr. Joca Morales Sa, a Brazilian scientist, will act as a consultant on this project where Sunn hemp has been used as the major source for corn nitrogen fertilization in a sub-tropic climate. This project will be attempted in a temperate climate with 40-50% less rainfall. Plot size will be 30 feet by 300 feet and replicated 4 times using a completely randomized plot design. This research project will be conducted on two farms (Brandt and Hoorman) for two years.
Corn will be targeted to be planted around May 1st. Pre-side dress nitrogen tests (PSNT) will be taken when side-dress nitrogen is applied (First two weeks in June) to the check plots. Standard soil tests and tissue tests (20 tissue test samples per plot) will be taken prior to pollination. A corn stalk nitrate tests (20 samples per plot) will be taken to determine optimum nitrogen utilization. Chlorophyll meter readings (30 per plot) will be measured in early season (6 leaf), mid season (12 leaf), and late season (pollination) to correlate to nitrogen efficiency with the other tests. The chlorophyll readings will be standardized with one strip of zero nitrogen commercial fertilizer. The second study compares four or five legumes to two checks (no-till plus 150#N and conventional tillage plus 150#N). The five legume treatments include Austrian winterpeas and Oilseed radish (AWP/OSR), crimson clover and oilseed radish (CC/OSR), hairy vetch (HV), cowpeas (CP), and Sunn hemp (SH). All the legumes will be planted after winter wheat or after early maturing soybeans except for the SH which will be planted between the corn rows and 3 weeks after the corn is planted. Corn will be targeted to be planted around May 1st. Pre-side dress nitrogen tests (PSNT) will be taken when side-dress nitrogen is applied (First two weeks in June) to the check plots. Standard soil tests and tissue tests (20 tissue test samples per plot) will be taken prior to pollination. Corn stalk nitrate tests (20 samples per plot) will be taken to determine optimum nitrogen utilization. Chlorophyll meter readings (30 per plot) will be measured in early season (6 leaf), mid season (12 leaf), and late season (pollination) to correlate to nitrogen efficiency with the other tests. The chlorophyll readings will be standardized with one strip of zero nitrogen commercial fertilizer.
Plot size will vary on this experiment depending upon the farm. Dave Brandt plans to plan replications 60 feet wide and 300 to 500 feet long, Jim Hoorman plans to plant 15-30 foot wide strips 200 to 300 feet long. All plots will use a completely randomized plot design and all plots will be harvested to yield for two years. Herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizer (P&K) will be standardized to previous soil test values with 25-40 pounds of starter N fertilizer for all plots.
SARE grant project LS10-227 is a current study looking at legume performance and nitrogen cycling on organic farms. They are using legume varieties (crimson clover, hairy vetch, and winter peas) and inoculation for the southern region. Our research will use legume varieties for the North Central region. In addition, our research will center on commercial applications for both small and large traditional farms and our corn will be planted into live legumes in the spring and terminated later to maximize nitrogen production.
SARE grant SW97-011 used mixed legumes and non legumes to improve sustainable crop production in the Western Region. This project used mainly grass cover crops with hairy vetch to improve water infiltration, reduce soil erosion, and decrease nitrogen leaching. Our study will focus more on producing homegrown nitrogen before corn in the Midwest to reduce commercial fertilizer application.
FNC08-708 was a SARE On-Farm grant done by Dave Brandt researching corn-soybean-wheat rotations with various cover crops including legumes, grasses, and mustards. Our current grant has a similar rotation but focuses on increasing Nitrogen production with crimson clover, hairy vetch, cowpeas, and Sunn Hemp in addition to the Austrian winterpeas. The goal of the new grant is to research more nitrogen producing legumes, increase nitrogen production by letting the legumes live longer in the spring before termination, include a more common corn-soybean rotation in the mix, and expand the concept to other parts of Ohio.
The second part of our research centers on Sunn Hemp (Crotaleria juncea). SARE grant ONE09-105 researched crotalaria in West Virginia under drought and dry conditions in peach and vegetable orchard production. Crotaleria produced exceptional weed control (90% reduction) and good nematode control. Our goal is to produce nitrogen production by planting the crotaleria with the corn to see if there is enough growth and production under temperate climatic conditions.
SARE grant LS08-205 was researched conducted in Florida looking for crotalaria genotypes for weed suppression and seed production. Our research looks at using crotalaria for nitrogen production with corn in the Midwest. The information from this report will be used to select a crotaleria variety suited for Ohio. Our research will focus on using legumes to supplement nitrogen in commercial corn production in Ohio. Our goal is to decrease the use of commercial fertilizer by 50 to 70% by using legumes to home grow our nitrogen, reducing commercial fertilizer expenditures and protecting the soil and water resources in the environment by growing a live crop throughout the fall, winter, and spring months when the soil is typically fallow.
Our group has a number of ways to share information. First, we have excellent relationships with Ohio State University Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Farm Bureau, Midwest Cover Crops Council and Ohio No-till Council. Our group will share information at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference (CTTC) conference (two days) at Ohio Northern University for a segment on No-till and Cover Crops (1,000 participants annually), Ohio No-till field days (150-200), National No-till conference (800), Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) meetings (50-150 state experts). Information will also be shared at National and International meetings including the Soil and Water Conservation Society, National Association of County Agricultural Agents, and ASA-SSSA-CSSA annual meetings. We plan to conduct at least one field day and several tours each year for local farmers (50-150 farmers). We will also submit articles to be published in C.O.R.N. newsletter (state newsletter on crops), Ohio Country Journal, Ohio Farmer, Corn and Soybean Digest, and Successful Farming magazines.