VISITING EXPERT: Cover Crop Solutions’ Steve Groff, US, with Cadgee farmer Nick Wight and Elders Naracoorte agronomist Jason McClure at a green manure trial site at Strathyre with tillage radish.United States-based cover crop pioneer Steve Groff had a simple message for South East growers recently–treat cover crops like cash crops.
On a tour through southern Australia last month with AGF Seeds, Mr Groffsaid similarmanagement was needed to grow radish, millet and other cover crops as cereals and pulses, including fertiliser and insect control.
“It (cover crops) can make a good farmer better, but a bad farmer worse,”he said.
Mr Groff who has been growing cover crops for more than 20 years developed tillage radish through a business he co-founded called Cover Crop Solutions.
Tillage radish has been available in Australia since late 2014 through AGF Seeds andlocal suppliers. It reaches maturity in 10-12 weeks. Its development involved working closely with the University ofMarylandand undertaking on-farm trials.
Mr Groff said farmers needed to experiment on their own farms with no onesystem fitting all.
“The big picture is increasing soil health and organic matter and reducing compaction, but it will look different for different people with some even looking for disease control,” he said.
Mr Groffsaid it had taken time for widespread adoption but nowup to halfof farmers in the Pennsylvania area were growing cover crops – either as single species or a mix of varieties.
He saidin low summer rainfall regions it was not always feasible, but it was important farmers were prepared for rainfall events.
Cadgee farmerNick Wight, Strathyre Props, conducted a green manuretrial ina paddock that had struggled to grow a consistent crop in the past six years, with variableplant height to patchy growth and germination.
He hopes it will increase the yield of his winter crop, which will be oat and ryegrasshay.
In late Januarythe Mackillop Farm Management Group member, with advice from Elders Naracoorte agronomist Jason McClure, plantedeight trial plots each 10 metres wide (the width of a seeder) and 500mlong with sorghum, maize, Summer Max, lunch radish, tillage radish, canola, millet and Mace wheat.
Due to low summer rainfall the plots received only about 100 millimetres–mostlyfrom irrigation.
Late last month they were disced into the soil.
Mr Wightsaid the millet and two radish varietieshad the bestearly establishment, but the sorghum and maize grew the most biomass –up to a metre high.“A lot of people talk of major benefits so itwill be interesting to see any difference in the next two to threeyears,” he said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.