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NRCS Soil Health and Cover Crops February 27, 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "NRCS Soil Health and Cover Crops February 27, 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 NRCS Soil Health and Cover Crops February 27, 2015

2 Soil Health Terminology

3 Soil Health Planning Principles Manage more by Disturbing Soil Less Use Plant Diversity to Increase Diversity in the Soil Grow Living Roots Throughout the year Keep the Soil Covered as Much as Possible * Manage erosion, compaction, and temperature/moisture * Goal: To create the most favorable habitat possible for the soil food web. Manage all inputs and disturbances for Soil Health Soil Health is NOT just Cover Crops

4 Soil Health Planning No “cookie cutter” or “one size fits all” soil health system. – Crop Rotation – Tillage – Cover Crop KISS – don’t overthink it It is not 100% successful – Plan on a failure at some point – Flexibility adds to the diversity Start simple and add as comfort level increases. Requires planning but also adaptability and flexibility

5 What is the objective/goal and timeframe? Where are voids in cash crop rotations/timeframe/season? What is the preceding cash crop and following cash crop? Nutrients lost or captured from last crop? C:N Ratio – High C/N Ratio = immobilizes N – Low C/N Ratio = mineralization Can a cash/forage crop accomplish the goal? Flexibility – Drought, flood, risk, markets System has to work for your operation – Tillage doesn’t mean we can’t plan diversity – Works for one won’t work for others Soil Health Planning

6 Planning Cover Crop Mixes Single or Multi Species – Certain resource concerns require multiple species (2 or more) – Start simple and add over time Pest Management – Green bridge to next crop – Pests moving from one crop to the next Resource Limitations – Planting capabilities (NT Drill, small seed box, broadcast, etc) – Neighboring crops Termination timing – Must be able to terminate when needed Have a Plan B Tillage, Rolling, Mowing – Manage residues Remove and replace as mulch Tillage/seeding equipment

7 Oklahoma Cover Crop Species Warm Season – Millet, Sorghum, Corn – Turnip, Radish – Mungbeans, Cowpeas Cool Season – Rye, Wheat, Ryegrass, – Canola, Rapeseed – Crimson Clover Seed size vs Seed cost

8 Take Home Thoughts Cover crops are valuable tool to add diversity and residues Managing for Soil Health requires management Local NRCS Office has tools available to help with cover crop planning – Cover crop calculator – Cover species guide

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