Cover Crops Field Day, Tuesday November 29

The Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Boone County Extension Service are hosting a Cover Crops Field Day on Tuesday, November 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The program will be held in the Annex Building at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds, located at 1300 E 100 S, Lebanon, Indiana.

The program will include a discussion of cover crop benefits and practices, herbicide management, discussion roundtables, and touring the cover crop plots to discuss production systems and issues and impacts on soil health. Program speakers include Barry Fisher and Mike Wigginton from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, AJ Adkins from Dawn Equipment, Hans Kok and Dan Towery, coordinators for the Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI), Brian Daggy from the Boone County SWCD, Bree Ollier from the Hendricks County SWCD, and Curt Emanuel from Boone County Extension.

Lunch, sponsored by Dawn Equipment, will be provided. There is no cost for the program however pre-registration is requested to help with meal planning. To register call the Boone County SWCD at 765-482-6355, ext, 134 or send an e-mail to Much of the program will take place outside at the field plots so participants should dress accordingly.

Field Day Agenda

Fall, 2016 Cover Crops Planted

The cover crop strips were planted on October 18 this year. We planted four different “treatments.” These are:

  • Cereal Rye, seeded at a rate of 50 pounds per acre
  • A mix of Barley, Rape, and Vetch. Barley @ 33lb/ac, Rape @ 2.66 lb/ac, Vetch @ 10 lb/ac
  • Annual Ryegrass, Vetch, Crimson Clover, and Rape. Annual Rye @ 10 lb/ac, Vetch @ 5.3 lb/ac, Clover @ 5.3 lb/ac, Rape @ 3.33 lb/ac
  • Oats and Oilseed Radish. Oats @ 30 lb/ac, radish @ 3.33 lb/ac

Everything was planted using a drill. Strips are 40 feet wide and each cover crop mix was planted into two strips. We also have a no-till check strip. The image shows the layout.

Plot layout
Plot layout for cover crops planted in fall, 2016.

The last of our cover crop planting is done!


As the picture shows, the four primary treatments for the cover crop plots are looking great, an inch of rain with warm temps has really helped. Today, November 4th, the last cover crop plot was planted, our “Late Cereal Rye” plot.

A planting date around November 1st is outside of the conventional wisdom for planting the majority of crops & vegetation used for cover crops, but Cereal Rye often demonstrates an uncanny ability to germinate under cold conditions and emerge in the early spring after late fall plantings.

Even with little or no vegetation over the winter season, late planted rye can establish root mass to enable it take off in the spring. While we may not have the winter cover protection we’d like to see, the root development can provide many benefits for soil health and fertility.

And sometimes, you need to do things outside the “conventional wisdom” just because that’s the way it ends up in the real world. It will be interesting to watch this particular plot.

30 Days After Planting the Cover Crop Plots

We planted the cover crop plots with a No-Till drill, this allowed us to maximize soil-to-seed contact, while protecting the corn crop residue on the ground surface. We want maximum soil-seed contact to promote germination and fast growth, while protecting the crop residue to minimize soil erosion, keeping valuable soil & nutrients in our field, where it belongs.

The picture was taken on October 29th, roughly 30 days 20151029_134638

after we planted the plots. Considering almost zero rainfall for 4 weeks, the cover crops are looking good. The 1 inch plus rain in last couple days has given the cover crops a kick start, the moisture combined with moderate temperatures in the 10 day forecast should enhance growth into November.