The Agronomists, Ep 102: Spring management of cover crops with Ryan Benjamins and Johanna Lindeboom


The end goal of using cover crops varies from farm to farm, but if using cover crops, there’s always one thing to consider: how and when to terminate the crop for maximum benefit and minimum headache.

To tackle the topic of spring management and termination of cover crops, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Ontario agronomists Johanna Lindeboom and Ryan Benjamins on this episode of The Agronomists!

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  • Let’s talk goals with cover crops first
  • Holding ground where it should stay is the most common goal, followed by soil health, N fixation and weed control
  • Why choose cover crops?
    • Prevent soil erosion by maintaining soil cover,  soil health, adding in organic matter to promote soil diversity, weed prevention
  • Red clover: #1 choice for working in more N though organic matter
  • Weed suppression in fall rye
  • Seeding rates: how much is enough to see benefits?Ryan says the key is ground cover
  • Similar to forage but focussed on ground cover but managed similar to a forage
  • How important is a spring plan for a summer/ fall cover crop? Plan is critical but being able to adjust it is even more critical Very important! Without a plan it can be a mess. Terminate early but if not possible due to moisture, terminate late and follow up immediately with planting.
  • Think in terms of what you want to plant into, crispy dead or crispy green organic matter is alway the choice over the half dead, ropey matter that gets tangled and messy on equipment
  • RoundUp (glyphosate) vs. cereal rye: looking at development of resistance you need to watch that treated plants are not going to seed
  • Clip from OMAFRA on cereal rye cover crop, grows lots of biomass and allows for soybeans to be seeded into standing rye
  • Roller crimper is an asset in organic weed suppression and is not a widely used practice
  • Not every site or year is the same, there are risks to doing this
  • Terminate early and cover crop pulls moisture out of field and allows grower to plant fields early
  • Rolling rye and planting pumpkins: prevents muddy dry spots in the field and on the squash
  • Corn into winter Triticale: resulted in spindly growth with bug problems. Lesson learned was that crop planted into cover matters!
  • Areas with limited moisture need to be mindful of termination time
  • Judge termination time on moisture levels and other factors effecting the field
  • In planning: N rates are adjusted when cereal rye is present in rotation, placement of N and planning termination timing
  • Strip tilling, something to try
  • Red clover: consistency of establishment depends on what was planted previously

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