Covercrop mixtures for the North - The Combine Forum

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post #1 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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Covercrop mixtures for the North

Being as it is sort of cold and miserable out I figured I would see if we can get an updated cover crop thread. I'm thinking specifically North Dakota and the Prairie Provinces minus the red river valley:

I myself have only drilled in crops after canola or lentils, but am looking for input on a few issues:

How have the airplanes been doing? Are there many guys using planes? With average first frost being around Sept 20th there aren't many times where I can get a full 6+weeks of growth.

It seems like diversity is the key, but are there any tried and true 3 way mixes that have worked well? I know it is a loaded question... I can buy premixed 7+ way mixes and add in oats or rye as a base, but that can get to be $30 acre + application costs.

I know that a guy should know his goals for cover cropping and I think that I am close to figuring out how to attack it, but are there any good resources that we can link to this thread?

If a guy was to gut a high clearance sprayer to make a cover crop seeder is there enough work or enough of a need in your areas to make that work as a possible custom seeding operation?

Success stories and Failure stories?


Thanks,

Phil

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post #2 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 06:53 PM
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A september 20 average first frost will likely put some limits on your seed choices.
Here, october 20 is about average. But even then, there's no moisture in our soil to germinate a cover right after a cash crop.



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post #3 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 07:36 PM
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I would love to try a plane but the planes are busy with fungicide when I want them. I'm not fussy but they don't want to put the spreaders for nothing.

Cheap is #1 for me, I am planting radish on a 26 acre field for seed, so we will see how that turns out because this dollar plus per pound don't work IMO

One thing I tried this fall and is dirt cheap was mixing a little corn in. It is a very strong plant, the top will freeze off but the root is almost unstoppable. I put mine in pretty late so the growth point never did get above ground. I would guess the average depth of the corn roots were 20" when they got buried in snow.

Oats definitely is cheap

I tried sunflowers and they were stronger than I would have guessed

Her is what I was trying to achieve this fall
I wanted to be under 10$ per acre total for application and everything. I used uncleaned seed. But had very clean seed to work with.

15# oats. Dollarish.
4# sunflowers. 60 cents
5# corn. 25 cents
7# 2 year old treated soybeans.??? Not going to get planted anymore, if you look around you can find this stuff cheap. Germ was about 65%, I think mostly cause it was warm it turned out ok.
10# winter wheat. Low falling numbers and was worth 1.50 bu

This was enough to get pretty good cover and was fairly diversified IMO for cheap.

Would it be nice to put together a better nitrogen package? You bet! But I did get a good soil building cocktail for dirt cheap.

I will work on making this better but given the economics of it as of now I got no extra money to waste and for 20+dollars I can buy a pretty good shot of nitrogen that I am still better equipped to do.

The high clearance sprayer is something that when Trump makes commodity prices great again I will be doing without question. I am thinking along the likes of a walker 44 dedicated to a valmar 4400 spreader box I have. I will make the booms 60' to match my planter.

I keep my eyes peeled because this seems to be evolving very fast and I'm a little cautious because there is lots of great ideas coming through the pipeline
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post #4 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 07:42 PM
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In my northern locale average killing frost is sept 15. As far as a cover after harvesting a cash crop is not in the cards, unless it was Polish canola, or a forage crop. Even then some years there's not enough moisture to germinate a cover. You'd be best to broadcast clover into a winter wheat crop in the spring or something like that. I've mixed a winter cereal with my spring seeded cereal forages for fall and spring grazing. I've thought about mixing fall rye or winter wheat and sweetclover with wheat or barley. Take off the cereal for forage then graze the regrowth and terminate the following spring or let grow and take as a forage crop the next year. If you're strictly grain in a short season and don't do any fallow, incorporating a cover is a challenge. Even for myself with cows the extra buggering around and negligible benefits makes it hard to justify. My feeling is that to see any big benefit of a cover it needs a long enough growing period and should be either grazed or lightly incorporated to boost microbial activity. As well, the more diverse a mix the better ( brassicas, legumes, and grasses). Lots of benefits to cover crops but I fear it has become a fad the seed sellers are capitalizing on. If you have to spend $30 for a "mix" of wonder plants they have won.
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post #5 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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I would love to try a plane but the planes are busy with fungicide when I want them. I'm not fussy but they don't want to put the spreaders for nothing.

Cheap is #1 for me, I am planting radish on a 26 acre field for seed, so we will see how that turns out because this dollar plus per pound don't work IMO

One thing I tried this fall and is dirt cheap was mixing a little corn in. It is a very strong plant, the top will freeze off but the root is almost unstoppable. I put mine in pretty late so the growth point never did get above ground. I would guess the average depth of the corn roots were 20" when they got buried in snow.

Oats definitely is cheap

I tried sunflowers and they were stronger than I would have guessed

Her is what I was trying to achieve this fall
I wanted to be under 10$ per acre total for application and everything. I used uncleaned seed. But had very clean seed to work with.

15# oats. Dollarish.
4# sunflowers. 60 cents
5# corn. 25 cents
7# 2 year old treated soybeans.??? Not going to get planted anymore, if you look around you can find this stuff cheap. Germ was about 65%, I think mostly cause it was warm it turned out ok.
10# winter wheat. Low falling numbers and was worth 1.50 bu

This was enough to get pretty good cover and was fairly diversified IMO for cheap.

Would it be nice to put together a better nitrogen package? You bet! But I did get a good soil building cocktail for dirt cheap.

I will work on making this better but given the economics of it as of now I got no extra money to waste and for 20+dollars I can buy a pretty good shot of nitrogen that I am still better equipped to do.

The high clearance sprayer is something that when Trump makes commodity prices great again I will be doing without question. I am thinking along the likes of a walker 44 dedicated to a valmar 4400 spreader box I have. I will make the booms 60' to match my planter.

I keep my eyes peeled because this seems to be evolving very fast and I'm a little cautious because there is lots of great ideas coming through the pipeline

I like that mix! I would assume that for corn, sunflowers, and soybeans that they have to be put in the dirt to germinate? or will they sprout on top?

I don't mind paying a little for radishes and turnips as long as I can add my cheaper bulk seeds to it. I had some corn and sunflowers laying around this fall, but didn't even think of adding them to the mix. Right now I'm on a rye/winter wheat/clover kick as the idea of growing for 2-3 weeks in the spring before terminating really appeals to me especially with the surplus moisture we've had.

I've seen pictures of sprayers that have 5 of those little 12V spreaders attached to the booms and they will apply fungicide and small seeded cover crop at the same time. Whether it is a spinner spreader or air boom setup I just want it to go 120' to follow the sprayer path.
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post #6 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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In my northern locale average killing frost is sept 15. As far as a cover after harvesting a cash crop is not in the cards, unless it was Polish canola, or a forage crop. Even then some years there's not enough moisture to germinate a cover. You'd be best to broadcast clover into a winter wheat crop in the spring or something like that. I've mixed a winter cereal with my spring seeded cereal forages for fall and spring grazing. I've thought about mixing fall rye or winter wheat and sweetclover with wheat or barley. Take off the cereal for forage then graze the regrowth and terminate the following spring or let grow and take as a forage crop the next year. If you're strictly grain in a short season and don't do any fallow, incorporating a cover is a challenge. Even for myself with cows the extra buggering around and negligible benefits makes it hard to justify. My feeling is that to see any big benefit of a cover it needs a long enough growing period and should be either grazed or lightly incorporated to boost microbial activity. As well, the more diverse a mix the better ( brassicas, legumes, and grasses). Lots of benefits to cover crops but I fear it has become a fad the seed sellers are capitalizing on. If you have to spend $30 for a "mix" of wonder plants they have won.
It is definitely harder with our shorter seasons. I do enough goofy crops that besides radishes and clovers I can definitely bring the costs down although I still have to figure out how to properly mix them together (ratios etc.). To make it work I think applying the seed into standing crop via whatever method is available will have to be the primary way of doing it. If I am not completely broke during next growing season I am going to have a plane fly some on standing springwheat in the middle of July (with hopes of getting 1 rain between then and the middle of August)
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Like this in Ontario?
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post #8 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Yes that is what I was thinking of. I saw a picture of a Hagie sprayer that had what looked like a factory kit to do something similar, but then once you take the liquid tank off of the sprayer then you have logistics issues of needing to spray, but the sprayer needs 4 hours to switch back over to liquid... Although I swore i would never own one, A JD 4920 with a dry box has to be coming down in price and I could also use it for fertilizer spreading which I never do. (midrow banding)
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post #9 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 09:24 PM
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I like that mix! I would assume that for corn, sunflowers, and soybeans that they have to be put in the dirt to germinate? or will they sprout on top?
A few years back I did a half section, (I got a Google Image somewhere of it I will have to find) I spread on the cover crop with a spinner spreader mixed with a fert blend to keep the small and large seeds in suspension. Then I came in with my Phillips rotary harrow. The tractor started on fire and I missed about 30 acres. (Tractor survived, saved it with a couple old pops laying in the cab, thank God at 2am and I know the fire department was wasted that Saturday)

I got over an inch of rain that night and following day and even then the stand difference was 30+% with basically 100% catch with the harrow.

So I took a 2400 Concord cart and put it on the Phillips harrow to make life easier. Even with the super dry conditions I had this fall I had a pretty good catch, a little better than 75%.

I hope in the next few years to buy a pull type sprayer and do basically the same thing with, put manifolds on it and go that route but we will see if I can pull off the self propelled sprayer first.

I guess I'm not too concerned about getting the covers on say wheat prior to harvest like I am corn and beans so I kinda plan on matching the planter width

Here is my wet dream

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post #10 of 74 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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I guess I'm not too concerned about getting the covers on say wheat prior to harvest like I am corn and beans so I kinda plan on matching the planter width
Whether it is spring wheat, flax, or canola it seems that they are rarely off by the 3rd week of August and usually not done till the second week of september (or November in the case of flax) which is too late IMO. This year we had winter wheat that was harvested the last day of July which would be ideal for drilling afterwards. When you apply cocaine (priaxor) to lentils they go from being an early August crop to a late August crop. not saying anything you don't know... just rambling on I guess.

IF I could get an older self propelled sprayer with autosteer and adjustable tread spacing for dirt cheap I would like to believe that I could fit a 120 ft^3 valmar type box on it and have a sweet setup. Hagies setup "only" goes to 90' and their kit is a $40k add-on. Charge $10/acre and it wouldn't take long to pay off investment if you don't have to travel 100 miles to stay busy.

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