The screen shot above was from a tweet earlier in the week. https://twitter.com/CCSI_IN/status/1448265604306243584?s=20
There was considerable amount of traffic and a good number of questions. Some of those questions, along with a couple of Aaron's replies may be found at the link above. Later, Aaron provided his crop program via email. Rather than post 15-20 linked tweets, we've put Aaron's response into a blog. This is his crop program for this field along with thoughts for the future. Again - this is his program - every farming operation, farmer, and field are different. This isn't a recipe. Every farmer has to plot out what will work best for their operation. No two farms are alike.
Aaron's Email re the cropping questions:
Sorry, I’m getting back around here to lay out the groundwork of my cropping program on that particular field for you. Yesterday was hectic to say the least.
I’ll start off with the foundation. That field has been in no-till and cover crops for 3 years now. Crop rotation has been corn and beans for as long as I can remember.
This last cover crop was planted on October 10, 2020. It was 15 lbs cereal rye, 2.5 lbs rape, 10 lbs Austrian winter peas, and 2.5 lbs balansa clover. (I think I’d put 5 the other day, that’s what I’ve gone to this year.)
The corn was planted on May 15th this spring at an average population of 33895(variable rate planted) with 7 gallons of 32%, 1 gallon 10-34-0, 3 pts Trafix Zn XL(has Zn, B, and S in it), and ½ gallon of a humic acid product.
It was then roller crimped 5 days later with an I&J roller crimper(Pat Bittner’s**). Following that, I went ahead and burned down with 1 qt RdUp, 1 oz Sharpen, and 3 gallons 32%. (I didn’t trust the crimping to completely kill it, so that’s why I went ahead and did that.)
In season, it was side-dressed with roughly 48 gallons 32%, 5 gallons ammonium thiosulfate, 1 qt citri-che zinc, ½ gallon liquid boron, and 1 gallon of a humic acid product. It was then post sprayed with a 1 qt RdUp, 3 oz Laudis, 1 qt Max-In ZMB(Zn, Mn, B, S), and 2 oz Stratego (strobilurin fungicide). It was finished off at tassel time with 8 oz Delaro Complete fungicide.
I run a Cadillac program on my corn as it probably shows. In the future, I’m hoping there are some of these products I’ll be able to get away from as I build a healthier and more efficient soil. But, at this time, I just haven’t cut back. I have moved away from insecticides and atrazine in particular. I use less and less residual herbicides in general every year because they tend to hang around and mess up the cover crop establishment.
The main thing I wanted to show with my pictures the other day is that intense cover cropping (planting into 6 ft tall hairy messes) and high yields are not mutually exclusive things.
I’ve got a sort of 10 year plan laid out where I’m hoping by the end I’ll be more minimalistic in my pesticide use than I am now. I just haven’t gotten to that point yet where I’ve been comfortable enough to cut certain things out. That’s one of the biggest downfalls I’ve seen with some farmers in the area: They think they can cut a whole bunch of inputs out in year 1 and go straight to full-fledged regenerative practices. While I get what they’re trying to do, it leads to terrible failures that look bad to everyone else and can give a bad taste to cover crops.
What are my plans in the future?
I’ll be planting all my corn extra hairy from now on and crimping it down. Crimping it drastically helps with early season vigor and ease of side-dressing.
I’m going heavier legumes. I’d really like to get to where I can reliably make some of my own nitrogen to where I can cut my rate back that I’m applying. I plant all inoculated legumes. If they don’t come already that way, I buy some specific to the seed.
I suppose I may play around with rates eventually to see about getting more weed control out of my covers. I don’t plan on them being my weed control as this point in time. I think they greatly help. I haven’t seen a marestail since I’ve been using cereal rye.
I’ll keep you posted. I’ve got another field that had 3.5 tons biomass that I planted corn into. I think it may be even better. It was pretty interesting planting into.
**You can listen to our CCSI-Hoosier Ag Today podcast with Pat Bittner here: https://www.ccsin.org/podcast/episode/20fd8d71/season-4-episode-7-it-professional-by-day-regenerative-farmer-by-night