Utilizing Homegrown Nitrogen from Legume Cover Crops for Corn Production
In 2012 after wheat was harvested we planted peas and radishes in alternating rows which winter-killed and on May 5, 2013 planted corn using no row starter or additional nitrogen. Also in 2013, Jim Hoorman has planted corn and sunn hemp to evaluate nitrogen supplied by sunn hemp to corn. Also, Dave Brandt has planted corn in 30” rows and inter-planted soybeans between corn rows. This was done on a 15 acre field. One half of the field has no starter fertilizer or nitrogen. The other half was treated as normal corn.
David Brandt has purchased a Hi-Boy Air Seeder which he will use to interseed various cover crop mixes in standing corn sometime in August 2013.
In 2012 David planted six plots of different complex mixes of cover crops. These consisted of as many as 12 different species of cover crops down to six species of cover crops. Our 12 way plot winter-killed, required no herbicide, and we have used no starter or nitrogen this year for this year’s corn crop. Other plots required some herbicide and fertilizer, but has reduced nutrients on all plots by as much as 50 percent.
LEARNED SO FAR
By using blends we can reduce the amount of nutrients by as much as 50% and still maintain yields. Winter peas and radishes, systematically planted is easier to do than blends and all tends to winter kill.
WORK PLAN FOR 2013
Repeat blended cover to gather more data. Have reduced nutrients on blends by 75% in 2013. Have purchased a Hi-Boy Airseeder to interseed into standing crops.
Had two Field Days in 2012 and one in April 2013. Total attendance for three events was 900. We also have hosted RMA Adjusters throughout the US to show our progress in reducing nutrients and water uptake. We have had four NRCS Training Sessions with more than 200 employees attending to demonstrate the use of cover crops in reducing run-off and improving water infiltration.