Member Priority: Cover Crops
Have you ever heard of “graze cropping?” John Stigge, a farmer from northeastern Kansas, owns Stigge and Sons farm, a 2000-acre no-till, cover crop and beef cattle operation. John is an advanced cover crop grazier and in lieu of planting a field for grain production, John plants cover crops and puts cattle out to graze for a whole production year or longer. John and his son Ian will discuss how his integrated crop and cattle system has improved soil health, productivity and profitability.
December 13, 2017
Within the farming community — and especially among Practical Farmers of Iowa members — there is a renewed focus on soil health, its role in crop productivity and environmental conservation, and the role played by soil microbes and farm management practices. On Practical Farmers’ 2017 member survey — a comprehensive questionnaire we send out every […]
December 8, 2017
December 7, 2017
As farmers wrap up their season and plan for next, PFI’s farmer-cooperators have an additional responsibility: submit the data they collected from this year’s research trials and plan next year’s projects. The first week in December marks the annual two-day Cooperators’ Meeting where farmer members meet to discuss these research results with each other and […]
December 6, 2017
Carmen Black and Mark Quee raise sheep on their diversified vegetable farms. They were curious if grazing a cover crop prior to a fall crop, rather than simply terminating the cover crop by mowing and tillage, would have an impact on the yield of the next crop. For this trial each farmer measured the yield […]
A roller-crimper presents farmers the opportunity to mechanically terminate cover crops without chemicals or tillage. This method is dependent on a large amount of cover crop growth and the cover crop reaching the flowering stage before crimping. A roller-crimper is a large, metal cylinder with “chevron” pattern blades that simultaneously lays the cover crop flat […]
December 4, 2017
How does a cover crop affect corn and soybean yields? Winter Cereal Rye Cover Crop Effect on Cash Crop Yield: Year 9 is now available! This is a long-term project being conducted by Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Between 2009 and 2017, 12 farmer-cooperators have contributed to 63 site-years of on-farm research to investigate what effect […]
November 30, 2017
A roller-crimper presents farmers the
opportunity to mechanically terminate
cover crops without chemicals or
tillage. This method is dependent on
a large amount of cover crop growth
and the cover crop reaching the
flowering stage before crimping.
• Farmer-cooperator Tim Sieren
compared soybean seeding dates
relative to cover crop termination
(before and after) as well as cover
crop termination techniques (chemical
• Cover crop termination date had
the strongest effect on soybeans.
Soybeans yielded best when the cover
crop was chemically terminated on
May 5 and the soybeans were seeded
on Apr. 24 or May 7.
• Roll-crimp termination of the cover
crop was a challenge and this was
attributed to a thinned cover crop
stand resulting from drilling soybeans
on May 7 before roll-crimping on May
Farmers reported that
in 59 of 63 site-years,
cover crops had little to
no negative effect on
corn and soybean yield
(and actually increased
soybean yield in 8 siteyears
and corn yield in 2
Roller-crimping as a method for terminating cover crops in organic and no-till farms in Iowa is gaining interest, but many questions still remain about best management practices. In this farminar, three Iowa farmers will share their experiences using a roller crimper in their respective organic operations. Scott Shriver and Francis Thicke will focus on cereal rye going into soybeans, and Billy Sammons will share his experience with hairy vetch going into corn.
Billy Sammons farms with Joanna Hunter near Churdan. They are in the process of transitioning to organic certification and are incorporating many no-till principals. Billy has used a roller-crimper for two seasons.
Scott Shriver has been growing corn, soybeans, and small grains organically near Jefferson for 18 years. Scott has grown rye cover crops for years but just started experimenting with a roller crimper in 2017.
Francis Thicke is a soil scientist and organic, grass-based dairy farmer near Fairfield, who has experience rolling a cereal rye cover crop after drilling soybeans.
November 28, 2017