Soil School: Relay cropping for healthy soils and profitability

Mark Burnham is doing his best to promote more wheat acres in Ontario. It can be a tough sell, but there’s no disputing the soil health benefits of having wheat in the rotation.

The Cobourg, Ont.- farmer, who runs a mixed farm with his family, believes a corn-soy-wheat rotation, with some hay and cover crops, is the best strategy for promoting long-term soil health on their farm. Burnham, a member of the Ontario Soil Network, also feels more farmers would grow wheat if the cereal could deliver a better economic return.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Soil School, Burnham shares what he’s doing to help wheat shake its “poverty grass” tag. For the last two years he’s been field testing relay cropping on his farm. His philosophy is really quite simple: add a second crop to improve the per-acre economic return by inter-seeding soybeans into growing winter wheat. After two years of trials, the most successful approach appears to be twin-row winter wheat with 30-inch soybeans inter-seeded the following spring.

“We just get more sunlight down in the beans to allow them to grow. The beans were right up at the top of the wheat canopy,” says Burnham. Research will continue in 2020 to further refine the agronomic approach and assess economic return on relay cropping, but he’s already sold on the benefits of wheat.

“Wheat adds organic matter and a different dimension to soil structure, and the root mass below ground is really what we’re after,” say Burnham.

Click here for more Soil School videos.

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, realag
__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