I have learned so much about cover crops since I started this blog in 2010. One of my hopes has been that I could have guest bloggers that would occasionally share with everyone what their experiences have been. The following post is from Daryl Starr of Advanced Ag Solutions in Indiana.
I really appreciate reading Cover Crop Dave’s blog posts and had to send him an email after a recent one about aerial seeding success this fall. We work with several great farmers that use cover crops as part of their no-till crop plan and noticed more than just a few beautiful stands this fall. One of these stands I had the good fortune of mapping with a new tool in our business, called the Greenseeker NDVI sensor. This tool allows us to quickly map the “green-ness,” for lack of a better word, of any plant material.
On Nov 18, 2011 I ran an ATV over this field of annual ryegrass that was flown into standing corn in central Indiana. Our hope is that mapping of cover crops will help us predict the nitrogen release of various areas of the field so that we can adjust for future cash crops. Of course we will map the actual crops too, but sometimes a map of an actively rooting cover crop might tell us more about the soil profile than a very young corn plant. At least that is what we hope to compare next spring!
One of the most interesting things about this map is that the soils don’t necessarily match up exactly to the cover crop lushness. From driving it there were certainly areas that the airplane intentionally missed, like the far east side border…trying to keep it off the neighbor. Then, I noticed only a couple areas that were accidentally missed… actually less than 1 acre in a whole 130 acre field like this. Then, I could see how sometimes the low ground had a great stand because of thin corn stands due to spring ponding and more light (see Dave’s post on this topic).
And then there were hill tops with good stands because of what I would guess was earlier plant death because of summer drought (again, check out Dave’s post). I don’t know that this exactly correlates with nitrogen but I can tell you that early death or thinner stands would take up less nitrogen, so it might.
Either way this map gives us something else to help understand the crop responsiveness to additional nitrogen while a map of the actual crop would tell us more exactly. It certainly is more variable than what appeared to be a beautiful and perfectly even stand from the road.
Keep sharing your experiences, Dave!
Daryl Starr, President
Advanced Ag Solutions
1405 Fairfax Drive
Lafayette, IN 47909
Toll Free: 888-512-4890