Cover crops

This is an awesome mix pictured but might not be one for beginners or to be paired tillage. One way to approach this situation is to chemically terminate the covers and plant without tillage. It can still be both sprayed & worked, but it will be messy, expensive, undo lots of earned benefits, & really, not fun. We are here to help you work through complex situations & be successful! newtonsoilwater@gmail.com, 219-285-2217

NEWTON COUNTY Ind. — Happy 1st Monday of Spring!

I hope you all enjoyed the b-e-a-utiful weekend! What a gorgeous start to the official Spring season. Many gardens are getting started and little sprouts are already poking up!

Here are a few things going on at Newton SWCD this week:

Tomorrow is National Ag Day! Thank you so much to all of our agriculture sector workers in Newton County. Agriculture touches all of our lives & we are grateful for the dedication of not only our Newton County farmers, but also our ag research & engineering folks, bankers, community planners, conservation professionals, educators, energy sector workers, landscapers, processing & retail workers, transportation professionals, & more. Together, they help feed, clothe, & fuel the world. https://www.agday.org/education

We have a site visit planned this week to assist a local landowner planning for pollinator & native habitat landscaping. Lots of good info can be found here: https://www.portercountyswcd.com/resources. Please reach out if you are interested in installing native & pollinator friendly plantings at your home! (219) 285-2217, newtonsoilwater@gmail.com

Fish Sale!! Orders are due May 3rd & can be picked up May 12th at 8am at the Newton County Government Center. See the attached order form for more information! Order your pond fish today (219) 285-2217, newtonsoilwater@gmail.com.

Newton County Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (C.I.S.M.A.) meeting Friday at 12p CT. Open to the public! Anyone interested in fighting invasive species in Newton County & improving our natural habitats, please join us! No downloads needed, just tune in via:

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Meeting ID: 987 8295 1216

Passcode: 915424

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Meeting ID: 987 8295 1216

Passcode: 915424

We celebrated #FieldWorkFriday last week checking on overwintered cover crops. We’re here to help you be successful when trying new things! One lesson to share as we begin to terminate & plant fields:

Cover crops & tillage mix about as well as oil & water... Cover crops have so many benefits which is why many are using them. Benefits include roots that build organic matter, increasing beneficial insects, fungi, & bacteria in the soil, erosion prevention, & long term reduction of compaction.

However, incorporating covers takes new ways of managing soil. Some covers, like cereal rye, have fibrous root systems that extend deep & wide throughout the soil profile. Cover crop “cocktails” (like shown below) often have a diversity of species, some winter killing, some over wintering, some fibrous roots, some taproots, some grasses & some legumes. This is great, but adds levels of complexity when the time comes to terminate.

In tillage systems, the shank runs through the soil profile resulting in root balls & huge clumps that make for rough & uneven surfaces. In turn, the farmer will then need to use more tillage, time, & fuel to smooth out all of these clumps.

When these cover crops are manually broken down, it’s like Thanksgiving for soil biology. Microbes, fungi, & bacteria in the soil go on a feeding frenzy with all of the new food to break down, releasing an abundance of carbon & valuable nutrients all at once, super early in the season. After they exhaust all of their food, they can starve & soil biology suffers. Alternatively, not tilling the soil induces a slow & metered break down, releasing nutrients & optimum times for cash crop uptake.

Tillage will also break down the hard won aggregate glues created over the cover crop season. When these aggregates are broken down, soil can become compacted & crusty once again. The soil surrounding the plant will also be exposed, bringing opportunities for wind & water erosion, weeds, & early season frost damage.

With that, tillage & cover crops do not mix. Start simple. See the Cover Crop prescriptions from Purdue Extension & the Midwest Cover Crop Council or give us a call & we’d love to help you design a plan.

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