We’re painting this episode of The Agronomists red — for red clover!

On this episode, Dr. Dave Hooker, University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, and Dan Petker, farmer and red clover grower extraordinaire from Port Rowan, Ont., join host Shaun Haney for a thorough discussion on being successful with cover crops, not just red clover.

SUMMARY

  • Are they the right fit? Maybe you’re a veteran with cover crops?
  • Why is red clover THE cover crop fit, if you can get it established? No better data set on cover crops than red clover
  • An intro red clover clip! Petker has good success with it because it handles his environmental, regional stresses well, it overwinters well, he seeds it and forgets it
  • With wheat, red clover is the “perfect window,” and barley is a good fit too
  • Tillage radish? Hooker questions the compaction busting quality of this cover crop, but it does have some advantages
  • Petker practices controlled traffic on his farm: always knows where compaction is, and ALWAYS knows where compaction is, the only thing that broke up compaction was a cover crop that had roots for more than three months
  • What about red clover in #WestCdnAg… would still be an establishment problem
  • Hooker has more video clips: red clover variability fly-over (entrance to a field, wheel-traffic compaction)
  • Sulphur is a huge part of Petker’s red clover establishment program
  • Follow Petker and Hooker’s clover discussions on Twitter! Hooker: @cropdoc2, Petker: @PetkerFarm
  • Perhaps Petker is in a “goldilocks” zone, where it’s maybe good and bad
  • In P.E.I., red clover underseeded under barley, quite common, but causes disease issues in potatoes
  • In drought, leave the moisture for the regular crop
  • Sweet clover, grows really tall, which is a problem
  • Does a higher seeding rate ( 30 per cent more) really improve stand establishment, or does it mask by just getting something established everywhere?
  • Deep southwest of Ontario, less and less red clover used. Perhaps interference with “stale seedbed prep” system
  • Is there a soil characteristic that suits red clover best? Often interseeding cereal rye into corn, soil pH imbalances show up very clearly
  • Could red clover be established with canola, with perennial ryegrass? With protection of canola in the row, what would its tolerance to Liberty?
  • Compiling data on red clover to figure out what’s hindering establishment? Yes, it’s been tried
  • Choice of wheat variety, does that make a difference?
  • Graphs!! A 6.7 bu/ac advantage to growing corn after red clover! Corn yield response to soil N capacity, zero N fertilizer. No-till and crop rotation reduces N fertilizer requirement… clear indicators of red clover benefits
  • Single versus multi-species mixes? What’s the relevance of a 15-species  cover crop mix for Manitoba? One species might do better in one area of the field, in theory we can take advantage of the diversity
  • Cost is one issue. The cover crop becoming a weed is another. Annual ryegrass is a good example
  • What’s the best plan to deal with a big clover cover crop, when it comes time to strip-till?
  • “Best practices” for red clover and what to seed into it, if it doesn’t establish?

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