Wondering how to do cover crops? OSU Extension, in collaboration with the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC), has produced cover crop “recipes” for two scenarios: Post-corn, going to soybean; and post-soybean, going to corn.
The recipes are intended to provide step-by-step guidance to some of the lowest-risk starting points for cover crops. They don’t cover the whole spectrum of possibilities, but they can help beginners get most pieces in place to incorporate cover crops into a farm operation.
The two recipes were developed to address Ohio’s most common crop cropping system, the corn/soybean rotation.
The “post-corn, going to soybean” recipe suggests cereal rye, which provides an overwintering ground cover. Soybeans often thrive when planted into standing dead or living cereal rye residue.
The “post-soybean, going to corn” recipe suggests an oats/radish mix, which will winterkill and leave a smaller amount of residue in the corn seedbed the following year.
In addition to protecting soil from erosion and building soil organic matter, cover crops can take up excess nitrate left after a cash crop, reducing nitrogen loads in surface or groundwater.
Talking with Ohio State University Extension, NRCS, or Soil and Water Conservation District employees about what’s working locally can also help set new cover crop users up for success.
The recipes can be found on the MCCC website — mccc.msu.edu/getting-started/cover-crop-recipes/ — which also includes detailed information about many common cover crop species and links to other resources.
Ohio is one of 13 states and provinces represented on the MCCC, a collaborative group with the goal of supporting broad adoption of cover crops across the Midwest. Funding for the recipe project was provided by the McKnight Foundation.
If you are interested in cover crops, don’t forget to attend the Cover Crop Symposium next Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Wilmington College, Center for Science and Agriculture building, Room 149. There will be two sessions presented — the first session from 3:30-5 p.m. and the second session from 6-8 p.m.
Enroll in Farm Bill programs
Don’t forget — enrollment in the 2018 Farm Bill programs (PLC, ARC-CO, and ARC-IC) ends on March 16. If you do not enroll by this date you will default to the election you made in the previous Farm Bill and receive no payments for the 2019 program year. This same election holds true for 2020.
As of this past week, Ohio was 50% enrolled as a percentage of the 2014 Farm Bill sign-up. We sit pretty much in the middle of the state ranks due to the volume of physical contracts that must be handled being greater in Ohio that some other states, but we are ahead of most corn-belt states at this point.
Remember, PLC is a price protection/income loss option that covers declines in crop prices and the ARC-CO program is an income support option based on county-level benchmark revenues and guarantees compared to actual revenues.
For those with prevent planted acres, the ARC-IC program may be worth consideration. ARC-IC issues payments when individual crop revenue is less than the guarantee and uses individual yields, rather than the county yields.
Once an election is made, the choice carries through for 2019 and 2020. Annual changes can be made in 2021, 2022, and 2023 program years. If you have already made a program election and decide you want to make a change, you may do so until March 16th.
Information about the Farm Bill program options and the OSU Farm Bill Decision Tool are available at https://aede.osu.edu/research/osu-farm-management under the “FARM BILL” tab. You may also consult your local FSA office or OSU Extension Educator for answers to your specific questions.
The Secretary of Agriculture has said there will not be an extension to the enrollment deadline. FSA offices are very busy processing enrollments and have a great deal of work to complete in less than one month.
If you have not met with your FSA office staff to enroll in the Farm Bill program, please do so ASAP.
Remember, the deadline is March 16.
Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.