The cover crop triangle simplifies finding the right fit

More than success, failure is a great teacher. Still, most people don’t want to openly talk about their mistakes and instead focus on what worked well.

When it comes to cover crop use in Western Canada, only talking about what worked well won’t get us to wide-spread adoption. At the same time, a “that will never work here!” mentality is holding back adoption of the practice, too.

Kevin Elmy, who farms near Saltcoats, Sask., and works for Cover Crops Canada, says the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) principle is hard at work from way down south in the U.S., through Ontario, and in to western Canada. Instead of saying it won’t work, farmers should be asking,”How can this work?” he says.

As an example, Prairie farmers are facing a late harvest and challenging weather — does that mean cover crops are out? Elmy says there are so many species to choose from plus so many ways to seed cover crops, that even a compressed fall season there are options for keeping soil covered.

Yes, choosing a cover crop can be intimidating, as there are at least 60 different species to start with. Elmy points out, to simplify things, think about good crop rotation: you don’t want the same types of crops following each other. So, if you’re coming out of a cereal and going in to an oilseed next year, a legume cover in between is what’s needed. Or, if you’re going from a pulse/legume, to a cereal, a brassica or oilseed will fit nicely. By thinking in this species selection “triangle” farmers can quickly narrow down the species options.

He adds the more research farmers do in to cover cropping, intercropping, and soil health building, the more they’ll learn about how existing weed species populations can indicate different issues with non-productive areas of a field (i.e. salinity, poor drainage) or excess nitrates, and that can serve as guidance on which type of cover crop to choose.

Listen below to hear Kevin Elmy and Shaun Haney talk about cover crop solutions: 

Leave a Reply

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

gdpr, __cfduid, PHPSESSID, wordpress_test_cookie, woocommerce_items_in_cart, woocommerce_cart_hash, wp_woocommerce_session, wordpress_logged_in, wordpress_sec, wp-settings, wp-settings-time, __cf_mob_redir, wordpress_cache
__cfduid

Marketing

Measuring interactions with the ads on the domain.

__gads,fsk_ut_2317
scmtid,v,a,JSESSIONID
IDE

Statistics

These are used to track user interaction and detect potential problems. These help us improve our services by providing analytical data on how users use this site.

_ga,_gid,_gat,_cb,_chartbeat2,_chartbeat4
_ga,_gat
_ga,_gid
metrics_token

Preferences

Preference cookies enable the website to remember information that changes the way the website behaves or looks, like your preferred language or the region that you are in.

chartdefaults, comment_author, comment_author_email, comment_author_url
JSESSIONID, _os_session,anonymous_votes,csrf-param,csrf-token,user,user-id,user-platform,intercom-session,intercom-lou,intercom-session
personalization_id, tfw_exp