There’s a lot of cover-crop innovation going on around the Corn Belt. Growers are:

• Aerial seeding cereal rye or a mixture of rye, turnip, radish and legumes into standing soybeans, just before leaf drop. As the soybean leaves drop, they provide mulch for the cover crop. By the time soybeans are ready for combining, the cover crop is up.

Planting tillage radish or Austrian winter peas between harvested corn rows or in wheat stubble to clear residue from a strip for the next crop – without using tillage.

• Incorporating cowpeas or winter peas into continuous no-till corn-soybean-wheat rotations. The legumes can produce enough nitrogen for the following corn crop, according to research from Ohio State University.

• Slurry seeding manure and a fall cover crop in a single operation. The cover crop takes up the nutrients and stores them for use by the following cash crop.

• Seeding cover crops with fall P and K applications, or retrofitting cultivators or combines to till or harvest and seed a cover crop in one pass.

• Planting oats in early spring to dry out excessively wet soil, letting the cover crop grow for a few weeks, then killing it and planting soybeans.

 • Drilling soybeans into standing rye, then burning down the rye five to 10 days later, or letting the rye go to the late dough stage, then mowing it and drilling soybeans into the living mulch.

Sources: Sarah Carlson, Practical Farmers of Iowa; Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska Extension; Dwayne Beck, South Dakota State University Extension; Rafiq Islam, Ohio State University