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Cover crop and fertilizer management tips for this spring

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Cover crop dos and don’ts

As I sit here writing it is cold and wet. I have seen several planters out in the barn lot for a check-up but no one is seriously talking about planting yet. I do know that many are wondering when to terminate their cover crop, even though we haven’t had much growth yet. I like Austrian pea, it is easy — just apply your normal burndown of glyphosate, atrazine and favorite pre-emergent grass product for corn. I also like oats and will often use them in the fall to give me some cover after soybeans — they die on their own, but some folks will pasture them into December. I just started a multi-year cover crop research trial that includes crimson clover after wheat harvest. We will go to corn this year with cereal rye following, then to soybeans and after that back to wheat. We should be able to keep the ground covered most of the time.

An info graphic (i.e. comic book) on Cover Crop Dos and Don’ts (CPN-4002 at https://cropprotectionnetwork.org/library/) comes from a new website of the Crop Protection Network. Their suggestions fit with my concerns too. So what are some of their dos and don’ts?

  • Weed management
    • Do terminate cover crops before planting
    • Don’t use annual ryegrass
    • Don’t reduce herbicide use
    • Don’t rely on cover crops for universal weed suppression
  • Insect management
    • Do be committed to scouting
    • Don’t treat unnecessarily
    • Don’t plant immediately after killing a cover crop
    • Do wait 10-14 days after a cover crop has died
  • Disease management
    • Don’t rely on cover crops solely to reduce diseases
    • Do use multiple management practices

For a more complete look at cover crop termination choices see the Purdue Publication on Successful Cover Crop Termination with Herbicides bulletin, WS-50-W: www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ws/ws-50-w.pdf.

 

Fertilizer applicator certification – dos and don’ts

Don’t neglect to record applications. As we head to the field, we are doing some catching up. Last fall made it a bit rough on applying fertilizer. Even though we may be rushed we need to remember the requirement to keep fertilizer application records. If you are a farmer, you will maintain the records for three years. If you are a dealer and apply the fertilizer, you maintain the records for three years and supply a copy of the record to the grower who purchased the nutrients.

Do find a good place to get that needed weather record. I have been sharing this winter good places to go to get weather forecasts for files you need to add to your fertilizer application record. These work out great for planning timing of the application too.

Also this winter, I have been asked by several people if they need to record planter applied fertilizer. The law says that if you only apply planter fertilizer you do not need to be certified to apply fertilizer. But my feeling is that you should record all fertilizer applications you make, and that application should be in agreement with your nutrient management plan.

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