- Agronomic: buckwheat, clovers, oats, peas (field, cowpeas), radish (oilseed, daikon, forage), sorghum sudangrass, soybeans
- Vegetables: beets
- Crop Production: cover crops, reduced tillage
On poorly drained and somewhat poorly drained soils, excess soil moisture can prevent the timely use of farm machinery for routine farm activities. Conventional tillage practices of plowing, disking and clean cultivation only worsen the problem promoting muddy conditions, soil compaction, degradation and erosion. On vegetable farms growing many different crops with multiple plantings throughout the season, frequent trips across the fields are necessary.
No-till/reduced tillage farming practices have helped alleviate this problem by creating conditions which allow farm machinery to enter fields with excess soil moisture. This is accomplished by improving soil structure and drainage. Additionally, growing cover crops can help remove excess soil moisture. No-till/reduced tillage farming has been used successfully for planting large seeded crops of corn, beans, winter squash and transplanted crops of tomatoes, peppers and broccoli. However, small seeded crops which are more sensitive to seed depth placement and good soil contact require a more finely prepared seed bed.
Project objectives from proposal:
I propose an integrated solution, combining the benefits of reduced tillage farming with the use of cover crops. This will improve soil structure, drainage and will facilitate farm machinery entering fields with excess soil moisture. To make this system work, strip tillage/zone tillage is employed to prepare a narrow seed bed of adequate quality that will successfully grow small seeded vegetable crops.
Various cover crops, selected for their weed suppressing characteristic, will be established using no-till techniques during different periods of the planting season. These cover crops, having produced enough biomass will be rolled down and killed prior to cash crop seeding. Strip-tillage equipment will be used to prepare narrow seedbeds, and then conventional machinery to plant small seeded vegetable crops.
Primary and secondary strip-tillage equipment will be evaluated will be evaluated for their effectiveness in various high residue situations. Cash crops will be measured for percent germination, quality and yield. Any observable alleopathic effects from the cover crops will be noted.