Friday, March 15, 2013

Northwest Missouri Cover Crop Work

There is tremendous interest in the use of cover crops. In response to producer’s desire to know how they work and how to best use them, two different projects are being conducted in northwest Missouri by University of Missouri Extension, MU Agricultural Experiment Station and NRCS.
Cover crop plots are located at both the Hundley-Whaley Center in Albany and the Graves-Chapple Farm near Corning. Both studies are examining improvements to soil health and fertility and also for nutritive value of the forage produced for beef cattle. The Corning location is also looking at their use specifically in soils that have experienced flooding.
A variety of different cover crops (cereal rye, triticale, wheat, oats, tillage radishes, turnips, hairy vetch, Austrian peas, red clover, white clover, etc.) and mixtures of these are being evaluated.
These pictures were taken at Hundley-Whaley in Albany the first week of February. Although it is hard to tell from the picture, the cereal rye has a significant amount of growth and would provide some excellent forage for beef cows. Although the turnip tops have died back, the turnips themselves are quite large (and yes cows will eat them). As we continue to face dry weather conditions and decreasing pasture availability, cover crops may help producers fill gaps in their overall pasture/forage program. In a related demonstration, tall fescue plots were overseeded with either wheat, cereal rye, triticale or oats on February 6 to see if they would provide additional spring grazing in drought stressed pastures. Plans are in place to look at summer annual forages as well.

MU is hosting field days at each locations on April 1 and 2 in Corning and Albany respectively. The events will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each day and will feature hands on discussion of the various plots. There is no charge to attend either event and for more information contact the Holt County MU Extension office at (660) 446-3724 or Gentry County MU Extension at (660) 726-5610.

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