cover crop

Cover crop options for unseeded fields

For unseeded fields, the key benefits of cover crops are weed suppression, soil protection from sun and rain, and building organic matter. They can also be source of forage and bedding.

When selecting a cover crop consider the cropping system needs, herbicide or fertilizer previously applied and resources that are readily available. For example, carrying over treated soybean seed is not considered a good practice in Ontario due to the potential for significant decline in germination. Treated soybean seed can make a good addition to a cover crop planting.

Cropping system needs

Field will be planted to winter wheat in the fall of 2019

Cover crop options

  1. Oats Seed at 30 to 50 lbs per acre. Use the higher end of the seeding range if broadcasting and incorporating the seed. Oats are less likely than barley to carry disease to the succeeding wheat crop.
  2. Combine oats (30 to 50 lbs/acre) with leftover treated soybean seed Spread the soybean seed out across the acres to be planted.
  3. Oats (25-30 lbs/acre) and daikon radish (no more than 2 lbs/acre)

Control the cover crop two weeks prior to seeding winter wheat.

Alternatively, there is the option to plant nothing, and leave the field bare. Weeds would be controlled through herbicides or tillage, but both of these options cost money, won’t protect the soil from rain and sun damage and are less effective at managing weeds than cover crops in combination with herbicides.

Field NOT intended for winter wheat in the fall of 2019

Cover crop options

  1. Oats Seed at 30 to 50 lbs per acre. Use the higher end of the seeding range if broadcasting and incorporating the seed.
  2. Combine oats (30 to 50 lbs/acre) with leftover treated soybean seed Spread the soybean seed out across the acres to be planted.
  3. Oats (25-30 lbs/acre) and daikon radish (no more than 2 lbs/acre).  Daikon radish (i.e. Tillage radish, Nitro radish, etc.) will be slow to flower but if flowers are observed the cover crop should be mowed or terminated to prevent seed set.
  4. Oats (25-30 lbs/acre) and Clover (3 lbs/acre). Crimson clover will flower and rarely over winter. Double cut red clover will over winter if not terminated.

Cover crops planted in early July have the potential for significant top growth by fall and in the case of radish, seed set. Manage cover crops or terminate to avoid seed set and potential weed problems next year.

All of these cover crop options will respond well to manure application and will scavenge nutrients.

Forage is required for feed and spring seeding was impossible

Tonnage is needed

  • Decide whether you think this summer will be hot/dry or cool/wet. Expected weather conditions change which crop is most likely to be high-yielding.
  • Usually July is hot. Warm-season annual grasses (sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass, sudangrass, millet, etc.) will grow rapidly with heat. They have a reputation for being low-quality, but this is generally a result of using a one-cut system; yields and quality are maximized in a two-cut system. Warm-season annual grasses are ready to harvest approximately 60 days after planting, which puts us into the first week of September. Growth rates will slow as the temperature drops, and warm-season annuals will be killed by frost. It is possible that only one-cut will be realized this late in the year. Application of nitrogen fertilizer will be needed.
  • After the first cut from a warm-season grass (early September), growers could plant fall rye or winter triticale. This can be grazed 7 weeks after seeding (late October) or early in early spring, or be harvested in May at flag-leaf or boot stage. There is the opportunity to follow with silage corn or perennial forages.
  • If the long-term forecast looks like it will stay cool and wet, Italian Ryegrass (IRG) can produce yields comparable to sorghum-sudangrass under hot/dry conditions. Plant into moisture, first cut is about 6-8 weeks later, subsequent cuts every 28 days or so.

Digestible fibre/energy is needed

  • Cereals can be ensiled at boot stage or at soft dough stage. Plant oats now through August. Harvest 45-60 days later. Boot stage feeds like a haylage, soft dough stage will feed out more like silage corn.
  • Italian Ryegrass plant in August, take first cut in October.

Protein is needed

  • Planting peas with cereals can increase the protein content. Peas do not work well on their own because they tend to fall over and make harvest difficult. Ideally the peas and cereals should have the same number of days until flower. However, if there is a difference in maturity (caused by varieties or weather), harvest when the cereal is at boot stage to maximize quality.
  • Red clover seed is usually relatively inexpensive. While it is hard to dry as hay, red clover makes good silage with the colour slightly darker than alfalfa. Plant in August, harvest in October.
  • Annual clovers may be able to provide needed protein. Berseem is suited to production in wet soils, while crimson prefers good drainage. Plant in August.

Options for grazing

Almost anything can be grazed. In addition to the above options, consider adding forage brassicas (rape, kale, turnip, radish, etc.) to a mix for increased protein. Brassica leaves do not dry and store well; most producers do not have equipment to harvest roots for storage. Crop residues can provide good grazing for mature animals with low maintenance requirements. Avoid hairy vetch, buckwheat, and mustard in mixes to be grazed.

If straw is needed for bedding or as fibre in feed rations, any spring cereal can produce straw. Spring triticale or rye will produce more straw than oats while barley will produce slightly less. Spring cereals seeded this late in the season do not tiller well. Seed at 75 to 80 lbs/acre. The crop will need 30 to 50 lbs of actual nitrogen to achieve good growth.  Plan to desiccate ten days after heading to prevent grain formation and aid in baling.

Other considerations

How you plant the cover crop will also depend on your goal with the cover crop. If you are looking for cover crops to provide forage use a drill to seed to ensure even placement and faster more consistent establishment. If the goal is to get soil covered quickly, broadcast seed and use light tillage to cover the seed. It may seem to be faster to just broadcast seed but this leaves germination dependent on surface moisture, which can disappear quickly in summer conditions. Herbicide residues may be of concern in some fields. The following link provides more information on cover crop sensitivity to herbicide residues https://www.country-guide.ca/crops/pest-patrol-planning-for-cover-crops/.

Cover crop seed availability can vary regionally, check with local suppliers or find a supplier at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/resource/covercrp.htm.


Source: OMAFRA Field Crop Team Field Crop News

Father daughter farming

Trailblazing

Women farmers reveal how they have succeeded in agriculture, and how other women can too

By Brenda Schoepp, Country Guide

Country Guide asked for more on how we define a culture that is inclusive, equal and conducive for a successful female heir or independent business person from within a family unit.

In this first part of a three-part series, I went across Canada and asked trailblazers — highly successful women in farming, agriculture and agri-business — about their journeys starting from the time they were girls.

They pursued their dreams despite having very diverse back stories. Still, we need to recognize that the on-farm cultures they grew up in were extraordinarily different, and those differences helped determine the pathways they chose to get to where they are today. Read more

winter wheat bare ground

Managing bare areas in winter wheat stands

By Joanna Folings, Cereal Specialist

How should one deal with large bare spots in a wheat field that is otherwise in good condition?  Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all solution because the size and number of bare spots in fields greatly varies. Here are some options and considerations for filling in those bare spots.

Leave the bare spots alone

While doing nothing with the bare spots may seem like the easiest option, it may create headaches later on.  The biggest implication is weeds.  If you decide to leave the bare spots alone, at minimum you should consider a herbicide application to those areas to keep weeds under control.  Glyphosate resistant Canada fleabane can produce up to one million seeds per plant, so even one Read more

4R nutrient stewardship logo

Thompsons is first agri-retailer to earn 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification in Ontario

First to pass rigorous 37 standards set by the program.

The voluntary program certifies nutrient service providers in the Western Lake Erie Basin and across Ontario that apply or make recommendations on fertilizers in accordance with 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles – which refers to using the Right Source of nutrients at the Right Rate, at the Right Time and in the Right Place. 

Read more

Planting seeds in field photo

Thompsons first 4R Certified Retailer in Canada

On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, Thompsons Limited successfully passed Fertilizer Canada’s 4R retailer certification audit, and doing so, the Company becomes the first retail site in Canada to achieve this status.

The company thanks the hard work from all staff at Thompsons Kent Bridge branch, and Colin Elgie, Thompsons Agronomy Solutions Specialist who headed up the effort and for making this important commitment to the sustainability of farming and the environment, our customers and future generations.

McGregor Creek

Why is the water in McGregor Creek so brown?

The photo in this article is of the Forks of the Thames River at Tecumseh Park in Chatham–its junction with McGregor Creek. The McGregor Creek watershed starts on the ridge near Highgate and includes 54,000 total acres and 48,000 acres of Chatham-Kent farmland.

The McGregor Creek water is extremely muddy, even compared to the water in the Thames River.

Robert Richardson once farmed next door to the farm where I live today. His daughter Shirley tells of a family outing about 100 years ago on a three-deck excursion boat, from Tecumseh Park, down the Thames River to Detroit. Young Robert could look down into the clear water to see fish and the bottom of the river. The water in the river wasn’t always so murky. Read more

Girls to farmers - by D.Stobbe

Turning girls into farmers

Should you raise daughters differently to succeed at farming? This mother, daughter and granddaughter know their answer

By

No matter how progressive we think agriculture is becoming for ourselves, for our wives and for our daughters, there’s still a prevalent attitude that farming is “men’s work.”

Now a new ethos is gaining ground, and anyone who subscribes to the men’s-work way of thinking is being asked — well, ordered really — to get over themselves.

Farming excellence, we’re told, is no longer predicated on the farmer’s muscle strength. Instead, success takes multi-tasking, management, problem solving — areas where women excel at least as often as men.

With the demands ahead, our industry’s priority should be attracting the best and brightest of the next generation, regardless of gender. How can we do that? To find out, Country Guide sent me to talk to the experts: three generations of women from one farm family, all of whom identify solidly as “farmer.” Here is what I learned. — M.B.


Bev Shewchuk can pinpoint the exact moment she realized she’d had enough of not being taken seriously as a farmer. She and husband, Brad, had gone into the local bank to talk financing. Even though she carried the majority of the farm management including all of the day-to-day operating of the farm while he worked away, she waited until he was home from the oil field to make the trip into town since they always did the major farm decision-making together.

When the financing officer handed the couple their completed paperwork, Brad’s occupation was described as “farmer.”

Shewchuk, despite the fact that the couple had clearly described the partnership of their operation, was listed as “housewife.”

“Even though I was 100 per cent engrossed in the farm,” she says, “and even though I made all the decisions with the cattle and sheep, and even though I did every bit of the work when Brad was away, I was still a farmer’s wife even in my own mind until that moment.

“That was my turning point, the moment when I really changed my attitude about my own role on the farm.” Read more

Climbing a ladder image

Safety: Climbing ladders safely

Not maintaining three points of contact when climbing ladders can lead to injuries. Three points of contact is defined as always having one foot and two hands, or one hand and two feet in contact with the ladder at all times.

While maintaining three points of contact is important, maintaining three points of control is critical. Three points of control involves a worker using three of their four limbs for reliable, stable support while climbing a ladder.

Climbing a ladder with a tool in your hands can maintain contact with the ladder but not a firm grip (control) on the ladder rung. Communicate and practice three-point control. It provides for a greater level of safety when climbing ladders.

Other ladder-related best practices include:

  • Inspecting the ladder prior to climbing.
  • Facing the ladder at all times.
  • Hoisting tools rather than carrying them.
  • Keeping the belt buckle between the rails of the ladder.

Safety first in everything you do – on and off the farm.

REMEMBER TO ALWAYS:
Get proper rest. Look after yourself. Slow down. Never take shortcuts.

Work safe. Farm safe. Home safe.™