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Out Croppings: Important crop news from the field!

Cover Crops Resources Galore!

Posted: May 12th, 2016 by outcropn

ccwebinarseriestitleOur morning Cover Crops webinar series is in full swing! Thus far, we have held three webinars featuring Bill Curran, PennState Extension; Heather Darby, UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program; and Kirsten Workman, UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crops, Soils, & Pasture Program.

Don’t worry if you missed the live broadcasts of these webinars; recordings have been posted on our NWCS YouTube channel and are also available on our NEW cover crop website at: go.uvm.edu/covercrops.

Here are some quick links to the recordings:

We have two webinars left in the series and you can sign up for either or both at: go.uvm.edu/coffeebreakforcovercrops.

  • 5/18: Options for interseeding cover crops. Jeff Sanders, UVM Extension.
  • 5/25: NRCS programs for cover cropping. Sandra Primard, USDA NRCS.

Be sure to check out all of the resources posted on our new cover crop website, including research reports, guides & bulletins, videos & webinar recordings, and conference proceedings.

The webinar series has funding support from the Northeast Extension Risk Management Education Center; USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants program; and NE-SARE.

NERME-Logo USDA-Logosare-national

 

 

 

Update – Coffee Break for Cover Crops

Posted: April 22nd, 2016 by outcropn

UPDATE – Coffee Break for Cover Crops Webinar Series

Wednesdays: 4/27, 5/4, 5/11, 5/18 & 5/25

We apologize for including an incorrect list of the topics with the dates in the first posting.  Following is the correct topics for each webinar date.

4/27: Cover crops and your corn herbicide program.  Bill Curran, Penn State University.
5/4: Termination strategies, pros and cons. Heather Darby, UVM Extension.
5/11: Cover crop variety selection for inter-seeding.  Kirsten Workman, UVM Extension.
5/18: Options for inter-seeding cover crops. Jeff Sanders, UVM Extension.
5/25: NRCS programs for cover cropping. Sandra Primard, USDA NRCS.

Take your morning coffee break with us as you learn practical tips about cover cropping.

Each webinar will run for 30 minutes, from 9 to 9:30 a.m. – just enough time to enjoy your cup of coffee before heading back out to the barn, field or computer.  Learn more about topics we will cover, and register [at no cost] for one or all of the webinars at:

go.uvm.edu/coffeebreakforcovercrops

Coffee Break for Cover Crops Webinar Series

Posted: April 21st, 2016 by outcropn

Coffee Break for Cover Crops Webinar Series

Wednesdays: 4/27, 5/4, 5/11, 5/18 & 5/25

Take your morning coffee break with us as you learn practical tips about cover cropping.  Based on the most current research and on-farm experiences, our UVM Extension Northwest Crops & Soils team will provide you with cover crop tips you can use on your farm and/or in your work with farmers.

Each webinar will run for 30 minutes, from 9 to 9:30 a.m. – just enough time to enjoy your cup of coffee before heading back out to the barn, field or computer.  Learn more about topics we will cover, and register [at no cost] for one or all of the webinars at:

go.uvm.edu/coffeebreakforcovercrops

Our topics include:

4/27: Cover crops and your corn herbicide program.  Bill Curran, Penn State University.
5/4: Termination strategies, pros and cons. Heather Darby, UVM Extension.
5/11: Cover crop variety selection for inter-seeding.  Kirsten Workman, UVM Extension.
5/18: Options for inter-seeding cover crops. Jeff Sanders, UVM Extension.
5/25: NRCS programs for cover cropping. Sandra Primard, USDA NRCS.

 

Cover Crop Coffee Club – attend all 5 webinars and we’ll send you a gift certificate for a cup of joe on us!

To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in the program, contact Susan Brouillette 802-524-6501 or susan.brouillette@uvm.edu two weeks in advance of the scheduled webinar so we may assist you.

The webinar series has funding support from the Northeast Extension Risk Management Education Center; USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants program; and NE-SARE.

NERME-Logosare-national USDA-LogoUVMEXT_horizontal

Terminating Cover Crops

Posted: April 20th, 2016 by outcropn

Please Die Rye (reposting from May 8, 2015)

Over these past summer-like days, undoubtedly you’ve seen some rye growth! So now is definitely the time to be thinking about termination.

Killing the rye through plow down or herbicides are your options right now. Incorporating a winter rye cover crop in its vegetative stage will result in the quickest nitrogen release to your corn crop. An early kill can give a 30 to 50 pound nitrogen credit.

When rye reaches the boot stage (right before the head emerges), it may be harder to kill and will be slower to break down. It also may tie up nitrogen and delay its availability to the corn crop.

If you are planning a no-till corn planting, terminate with herbicide immediate after planting –timing is key so be sure planting aligns with a nice stretch of weather. If you are planning to terminate the rye with a roller-crimper, you must wait until the rye is flowering — when the anthers are clearly visible and shedding pollen. If you do not wait until this critical stage, the winter rye will likely “stand back up” shortly following rolling and crimping.

Enjoy the nice weather.covercropTrial

Some additional information on your growing cover crops

  • If the crop is at 8 – 10 inches in height and you are not sure of when you can set it back with manure, tillage, or planting in the next 10 days, you need to start thinking of a way to terminate it before it becomes a problem.
  • If you’re planting beans, it will not be a problem. You can routinely no till into standing rye then spray and have a super bean crop.
  • If you are no-tilling corn into standing rye, in most cases as long as you terminate (spray herbicide) immediately after planting it will not be a problem although it may tie up some nitrogen as it begins to decompose (as much as 70# if rye is mature).
  • If you are planning on conventional tillage, you need to watch your cover crop carefully or you will spend considerable time fighting with it in early June trying to get it to lay down enough to plant you corn into.

If you are planning to get out and apply manure, please pay attention to your setbacks and buffers. Work towards tilling the manure in immediately after application as it will retain 50% more nitrogen then leaving it sitting on the surface for a few days (the ammonium nitrogen will volatilize quickly on the surface and be lost to the atmosphere). Its money in your pocket and you have to till it anyway. It will also mitigate runoff concerns on slopes or in case of a major rain event.

Team Heads to Maryland for Cover Crop Training

Posted: April 14th, 2016 by outcropn

Spading closing wheels with drag chain.

Spading closing wheels with drag chain.

Cover crops, here we come! A team of Vermonters—including NWCS team members Heather Darby, Jeff Sanders, and Sara Ziegler; CVCSP staffer Kirsten Workman; farmer Becky Maden; VT NRCS conservation agronomist Sandra Primard; and VT state SARE coordinator Deb Heleba—headed to Baltimore, Maryland in late March to a conference called, “Cover Crops for Soil Health: A Northeast SARE regional training.”

The training brought together agricultural service providers (Extension, NRCS, and non-profits) and farmers from every state in the Northeast U.S. for three days of presentations by researchers and farmers to learn about the benefits of integrating cover cropping into grain and vegetable crops.

Although most of the research presented had been conducted in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York, we did learn about the relationships and tradeoffs of planting dates and termination timing, species performance when interseeded into corn, considerations for developing mixtures that are multifunctional, barriers to adoption facing farmers…and so much more!

Heather presented some of our NWCS research at the training and encouraged participants to think about the multiple uses that cover crops can offer farms – from pollinator and beneficial insect habitat to livestock forages.

DawnBiologic's ZRX Electro-Hydraulic Roller / Crimper / Row Cleaner invented by PA farmer Charles Martin

DawnBiologic’s ZRX Electro-Hydraulic Roller / Crimper / Row Cleaner invented by PA farmer Charles Martin

The highlight of the training was a field tour at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland. There, researchers have been conducting a number of field trials looking at legume cover crop breeding efforts, long-term evaluation of cover crops in reduced till conventional and organic grain production, and cover crop establishment approaches (interseeding, aerial seeding, and post-harvest drilling).

Perhaps our favorite part of the day was taking a look at the equipment demonstrations. We met Pennsylvania farmer, Charles Martin, who invented a one pass roller-crimper and no-till seeder. This unit has recently been sold to DawnBiologic and is called the ZRX Electro-Hydraulic Roller / Crimper / Row Cleaner. We are currently working to raise funds to purchase one of these units to test here in Vermont.

Weed seed crusher.

Weed seed crusher.

We also looked at units outfitted with spading closing wheels and drag chain, rotary hoes, and a really outlandish machine designed to destroy weed seeds borrowed from the mining industry (think crushed stone!)

We’ve returned with a renewed appreciation for the farmers with whom we work who always seem willing to try new ways to improve cover cropping on their farms. Stay tuned for our upcoming cover crop work — we plan on hosting a morning webinar series on cover crops in the coming weeks, and also plan to expand our no-till and cover cropping efforts during the season.

Now’s the Time to Consider Frost Seeding

Posted: March 2nd, 2016 by outcropn

Frost seeding by ATV!

Frost seeding by ATV! Photo credit: Dan Hudson, UVM Extension

Looking for a cost effective strategy to improve forage diversity and quality in your fields?

Frost seeding is a low cost seeding strategy that relies on the action of the soil freezing and thawing to incorporate broadcasted seed into the ground. Frost seeding can begin at any point now as most fields throughout Vermont are without snow cover.

Keys to successful frost seeding include:

  • Removal of vegetation before seeding (ideally grazing or mowing in the fall),
  • Seeding early in the spring (after the snow is gone but while the ground is still frozen),
  • Selecting species that can germinate when cold–Ideal species for frost-seeding include red and white clover seeding at rates between 6 and 8 pounds per acre–and,
  • Allowing for new seedlings to establish (avoid over grazing and letting plants grow to 6 to 8 inches before harvesting).

More information on frost seeding can be found at: uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/frostseeding.pdf.

2015 Corn Research Reports Ready

Posted: December 21st, 2015 by outcropn

Corn trials researched by  NWCS in 2015 get harvested.

Corn trials researched by NWCS in 2015 get harvested.

Our Northwest Crops & Soils Team has been busy this fall harvesting research trials, collecting samples, and crunching stats on all the data we’ve collected.

Now that it is officially winter, we are busy writing reports for all of the trials conducted during the 2015 research season. The first of our reports are ready — these include our silage corn research for long-season and short-season varieties, as well as organic varieties.

Be sure to visit our Research page at www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/research to see additional reports as they become available into the new year!

It’s Autumn: Time for Cover Crops, Manure Management, and RAPs

Posted: October 14th, 2015 by outcropn

Corn trials under research by NWCS in 2015 get harvested.

Corn trials under research by NWCS in 2015 get harvested.

As the harvest season winds down, folks have turned their attention to post-harvest cover cropping and manure application. The corn harvest was several weeks late (again); delays in getting field work done (due to equipment failures and busy custom operators) has slowed some operators getting corn harvest done in a timely manner. However, although the deadline for NRCS funding for cover cropping has come and gone, farmers are still planting cover crops using drill seeders and other incorporation methods. Drilling in cereal rye may still be effective but the remaining growing season is short—the days are cooling off and we are seeing reduced daylight hours which will slow crop growth.

Now is a great time to start thinking about the short day corn varieties to plant on those fields you are required to cover crop to meet nutrient management plan (NMP) requirements and/or NRCS contract obligations. Our NWCS research continues to show that 90 to 95 day varieties can and do out-yield some longer day varieties. People interested in exploring shorter day corn varieties should consult with their seed salesperson and also look at our corn trial reports. The data for 2015 is being compiled now and should be available in the coming months.

Manure application is another major task on the farms at this time of year. Remember to consult your NMP to obtain proper application rates and follow proper protocols. Keep your records up to date! Not only is it a requirement of all MFO and LFO farms, records are also your defense against any accusations of misapplying manure. SFOs are strongly encouraged to keep records as well and may be required depending on your NMP status.

Also, make sure you maintain your setbacks from streams and ditches. And, manure applied to the landscape needs to be done in accordance with current regulations. If you have questions, you can contact UVM Extension or the Vermont Agency of Agriculture for clarification.

The newly revised AAPs called “Required Agricultural Practices” (RAPs) will be coming soon. Please pay attention to upcoming meeting dates as these will be your opportunity to voice how the new Act 64 regulations will affect your business. This is a big deal and your input is critical to having a good set of rules that protect water quality and keep farming economically viable. We will provide more information about this as it becomes available.

Upcoming Field Day Focuses on Soil Health

Posted: August 14th, 2015 by outcropn

Joel Myers talks soil health  at 2014 field in  Addison County .

Joel Myers talks soil health with farmers at 2014 field in
Addison County.

On Friday, August 21, we will hold a day-long field day focused on soil health. The Summer Soil Health Field Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gervais Family Farm #2 on Davis Road in Enosburg Falls.

The day will feature Joel Myers, a private consultant in continuous no-till systems and cover cropping. Joel was a state agronomist with USDA NRCS in Pennsylvania before his 2006 retirement and has more than 40 years working with farmers on soil health benefits of no-till systems, as well as crop rotations and cover cropping.

The field day will also include information about cover crops, no-till, and manure management as well as equipment and field demonstrations. The event is a collaboration among the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program (NWCS), Friends of Northern Lake Champlain (FNLC), and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Registration is free –with lunch generously sponsored by Champlain Valley Equipment– but please register online at http://bit.ly/1IoSrpm.

View the Summer Soil Health Field Day Flyer for more information.

School may be out for Summer but the Testing Lab is In Session!

Posted: July 29th, 2015 by outcropn

NWCS staffer Erica Cummings with Falling Number machine in UVM Extension Cereal Grains Testing Lab.

NWCS staffer Erica Cummings with Falling Number machine in UVM Extension Cereal Grains Testing Lab.

The University of Vermont Extension Cereal Grain Quality Testing Laboratory is run by our NWCS team. Since it opened in 2011, we have tested hundreds of grain and hop samples from our research plots as well as commercial samples from farmers throughout the region.

The lab is now back open for the season and ready for business! Here are the tests offered by our lab for grain samples:

Test Weight: Test weight is a measure of the density or weight recorded in pounds per bushel of a grain at a standardized moisture level. It is a general indicator of grain quality; higher test weight generally means higher quality grain.

Grain Moisture: Determining moisture content is an essential step in analyzing flour quality since this data is used for other tests, namely falling number and protein, and is an indicator of grain storability. Whole grains and flour with high moisture content (greater than 14.5%) attract mold, bacteria, and insects, all of which cause deterioration during storage.

Whole Grain Protein: The lab is equipped with near-infrared technology (NIR) for protein analysis. Protein content is often a key specification for wheat and flour buyers as it can affect flour processing properties like water absorption, gluten strength, texture, and appearance. In general, higher protein indicates higher quality wheat.

Falling Number: The lab houses a sophisticated machine to test the Falling Number of wheat, an internationally standardized method for sprout damage detection. The Falling Number system measures the alpha-amylase enzyme activity in grains and flour to detect sprout damage and is crucial for final product quality of bread, pasta, noodles and malt. The falling number is measured by the amount of time, in seconds, it takes for a plunger to fall through a slurry of flour and water to the bottom of the sample tube. In general, a falling number of 350 seconds or longer indicates low enzyme activity and sound wheat. Falling numbers below 200 seconds indicate high levels of enzyme activity and much sprouting damage.

Seed Germination: New in 2015, the lab is offering germ tests of grains, particularly helpful for seed that is not certified or that is carried over from a previous year.

Corn Analysis: Our lab is able to provide analyses of corn samples. Results include % moisture, % crude protein, % crude fiber, and % starch.

Vomitoxin “DON”: We can test for deoxynivalenol (DON) also known as vomitoxin. Contamination of wheat with DON is directly related to the incidence of Fusarium head blight and strongly associated with relative moisture and timing of rainfall at flowering. The results are expressed in parts per million (ppm). Occurrences of vomitoxin in wheat at or above 1 ppm are considered unsafe for human consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has also established DON advisory levels to provide safe livestock feeds – a 10 ppm level is set for grains destined for cattle older than 4 months and for poultry (provided it does not exceed 50% of the diet); and a 5 ppm level is set for grains destined for swine (not to exceed 20% of the diet) and other animals (not to exceed 40% of the diet).

If you are interested in submitting samples to the lab for testing, please keep the following in mind:

  • Submit 1 quart of clean and dry (<14% Moisture) whole grain (do not send flour) for each sample submitted. Grain samples with stones and dirt will NOT be accepted. Remember, your results will only be as good as the sample submitted. Payment MUST be included with samples. Please clearly label each sample.
  • A sample submission form MUST be included for EACH sample–we cannot accept samples with no or incomplete forms.
  • Payment MUST accompany the samples to be analyzed. Samples with no payment included will not be accepted.

For more information about the testing lab and to download submission form(s), visit our website at: uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/cereal-grain-testing-lab and/or send us an email at: cropsoilvt@gmail.com.

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