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

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.

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