Soil health is the main focus at Wenning Farms, in the rolling hills and tight clay soils of southeastern Indiana. The family operates more than 600 acres in a corn/soybean rotation.
During 2012’s long, hot summer, Roger Wenning got a firsthand look at how a little soil residue can go a long way to add resilience to a crop. On May 14, the Greensburg, Ind., farmer no-tilled corn into a field that had been in a ryegrass/crimson clover cover crop over the winter. Since this was a high population study, he used a twin-row planter to seed at a population of either 39,000 or 45,000 seeds/acre.
Then it quit raining in southeast Indiana. The field received only 0.64 in. in May, then no more measurable precipitation until July 18, when it caught nearly an inch of rain. “There was a lot of heat right around pollination time,” Wenning recalls. “We went out to check the field and were shocked when we found that every stalk had an ear, and the ears were filled out well.”