Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Lynn Betts Progressive Farmer Contributing EditorCover croppers face a chicken-egg conundrum of decisions. What seed to plant in the fall often means selecting it in the spring, long before destroying the previous year’s planting, for example.To figure out what comes first and avoid missing steps, Steve Berger, Wellman, Iowa, suggests a calendar approach to planning. With more than 15 years of cover crops and 40-plus years of no-till under his belt, Berger encourages newcomers to embrace cover crops as a yearlong proposition.Start by asking what you want to accomplish: Reduce compaction? Build soil organic matter? Get better water infiltration? Get better control of herbicide-resistant weeds? Build soil health quickly? Get more cattle grazing opportunities? The answers to those questions influence the species of cover crop or mix of crops to be planted and how they will be managed.EARLY SPRING DECISIONSSeeding may take place in late summer or fall, but the demand for quality seed requires placing orders with reputable cover seed companies in late winter to early spring. The same goes for lining up aerial applicators, custom applicators or procuring seeding equipment.Berger suggests trying cover crops on a few acres first, and expanding to more acres with experience. “Planting rye into cornstalks ahead of a soybean crop is easier to manage for a beginner. However the best use of cereal rye as a cover crop is planting into soybean stubble ahead of corn to control soil erosion,” Berger said.This is also a good time to check with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about cost-sharing programs. Signups are often held as money becomes available. Take time to consider how you want to evaluate what cover crops do for your soil and water too. If you are going to measure changes in soil health or weed pressure, for instance, you need baselines to measure against. The same is true of the quality of water leaving your farm, through tile or in runoff.There’s a lot of information on the benefits of cover crops, but it is not from your farm. You can always make comparisons from other fields in the future, but early feedback can help you decide on changes you may want to make in the future, as well as confirm benefits you’re looking for from the system.DRILL DOWN ON FALLOver the years, Berger has tried aerial seeding and used a number of cover crops species. He’s still experimenting with multiple species mixes. He doesn’t have a specific date on his calendar for fall seeding, but he’s settled into drilling cereal rye into corn and soybean stubble. He doesn’t wait for harvest to be over either — he seeds immediately behind the combine for most of his cover crops.“Every day you have a cover crop growing is one more day it can produce benefits,” Berger said. “What we’re striving for is to have something covering the soil and growing in it all year long. Cover crops can contribute cover on 7 of the 12 months in a corn-soybean rotation.”More cover crops growth means more benefits — that’s why some experienced cover croppers use a high boy to drop seed into standing crops in September, or as early as late August. Aerial seeding is another option, depending on availability of applicators.HUSTLE AT HARVEST“Our busiest time of the year is September through December,” Berger said. “We’re harvesting corn and soybeans and planting cover crops simultaneously, to get the cover crops emerged and actively growing before winter arrives. We’ve planted cereal rye as late as mid-November, but you don’t get much beneficial growth after that.”In recent years, Berger has also started using a 2,4-D-based fall herbicide program on all corn and soybean land to control winter annuals. He also applies additional commercial potash in the fall, and spreads swine and turkey manure in November. Cover-cropped land also opens up opportunities for fall tiling — at least until the ground freezes.SPRING COMES EARLY“We try to terminate the rye in the spring one day to a week ahead of corn planting in mid-April,” Berger said. “Allelopathy is not a concern, but managing nitrogen is. We surface apply 60 to 80 pounds of liquid nitrogen with the planter using a Y-splitter that places 32% UAN behind the closing wheel, 2-inches to each side of the seed. We also apply 3 gallon of 6-24-6 pop-up fertilizer and insecticide in the furrow. Both nitrogen management and insect management are a little different with cover crops, and they’re very important to our success.”Berger is in no rush to terminate cover crops ahead of soybeans. He plants into green rye that can be waist high, and terminates that rye either just before or right after planting.Other growers use rolling and crimping in termination strategies. Many cover crop advocates also no-till or strip till or use the cover crops to help transition to no-till.**Things-to-do Cover Crop Check ListWinter:— Attend cover crops and soil health meetings.— Read up and watch videos on soil biology and carbon/nitrogen cycles.— Set long-term goals by individual fields for improvements, conservation, drainage, etc.— Decide on field(s) to seed and consider the worst erosion areas.— Line up cover crop seed, equipment, custom applicators as needed.— Make an evaluation plan.— Check into NRCS cost sharing.Spring:— Consider high-yielding early maturing corn and soybean varieties to facilitate earlier fall cover crop seeding.— Take soil tests as benchmarks for later comparisons (pH, organic matter, biology, etc.).— Decide how and when to terminate the cover crop.Summer:— Consider testing water from tile for nitrate levels for later comparisons.— Test for compaction and water infiltration rates for later comparisons.Fall:— Seed covers, into either standing corn or stubble right after harvest.— Note crop yields during harvest.Next spring:— Terminate the cover crop, plant soybeans.(PS/CZ)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. 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University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas will likely miss a key cog in their respective UAAP Season 80 campaigns.The UAAP eligibility committee ruled Ibrahim Ouattara and Rob Ricafort of the Fighting Maroons, as well as Steve Akomo of the Growling Tigers ineligible this year after failing to meet the required years of residency.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Saguisag believes that the UAAP Board will come up with a final decision before the start of the tournament on Saturday.“There are points raised and both schools have already elevated the matter to the Board of Trustees, and they will decide on the issue. We’ll just have to wait and see until September 9,” he said. “I hope the matter should be addressed, and it will be addressed. We’ll have a decision soon hopefully, before the opening. For now, it is what it is.” “It’s going to be a huge blow for us if we lose those two,” lamented coach Bo Perasol, as he expects Ouattara and Ricafort to figure on his starting lineup. “I have been preparing the team for more than a year with those two in the fold. And it’s going to greatly affect the team’s competitiveness if they will be deemed ineligible.”UP College of Human Kinetics Dean Ronualdo Dizer also expressed confidence that the decision will be overturned and the Board will allow Ouattara and Ricafort to play this season.“On the UP side, we are very optimistic on this because this has been amended during the time that we were hosting,” he said.The same goes with UST as coach Boy Sablan expects a favorable decision in the coming days.“I’m still very positive that our appeal will be approved. If we’ll follow the rules, that’s very clear there. I don’t know what’s the problem with the Board,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Christian Standhardinger enters 2017 PBA Draft Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul “The eligibility committee has already made its initial findings and it was affirmed by the Board of managing directors. So unless its reversed, overturned, or vetoed by the Board of Trustees composed of the presidents, the findings of the ineligibility on those players will officially stand,” said new UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag.The Mali-born Ouattara and the Cameroonian Akomo were set to fortify the frontline for their respective teams, but were deemed ineligible after failing to meet the two-year residency requirement for foreign players.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingThe Fil-Am Ricafort, meanwhile, is deemed by the committee to have exceeded the age limit even if he won’t turn 25 until January of next year. The age limit set by the league is 25.But the two schools are not giving their players up without a fight as they already submitted separate appeals to the UAAP Board of Trustees. LATEST STORIES View comments