Ten educational presentations focused on incorporating cover crops in a no-till farming system will be featured during the 30th Milan No-Till Field Day on July 26.
The event, sponsored by the University of Tennessee, is held at the University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Milan, TN,
“We’ve been working with cover crops for many years, but there’s been renewed interest, thanks in large part to the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service’s cost share programs,” says Blake Brown, director of the Milan Center.
Cover crops are used to improve soil health, fertility and water infiltration. With the recent onslaught of herbicide-resistant weeds, many producers have returned to cover crops as a weed control tool. However, Brown cautions that cover crops do come with challenges…and sometimes a learning curve.
“The cover crops we’re using now have much greater biomass than the wheat stubble into which we used to plant,” says Brown. “So if we’re planting into cereal rye and vetch that’s over five feet tall as opposed to wheat that’s less than half that height, that does create some issues.”
University scientists will address cover crop planting methods, timing of planting, and the impact of cover crops on crop yields. Other cover crop-related topics include planting corn behind cover crops, insect management in cover crops, and finding the right cotton planter attachments for those high biomass covers.
Tours will also focus on crop rotations and the various cover crop species to use with each, as well as the impact of crop rotation and cover crops on soil properties and water infiltration.
“If we can improve infiltration, we can reduce runoff,” says Brown. “And when we reduce runoff, we ultimately reduce erosion, which is why we started the no-till conservation movement in the first place. “The use of cover crops fits in well with our mission of stewarding our soil for future generations.”
The event is free and open to the public. Gates open at 6:00 am CDT, with presentations and an agricultural trade show beginning at 7:00 am. The field day will conclude at 2:00 pm.
Information provided by University of Tennessee AgResearch