The concept of planting an annual cash crop into a live, standing, green, cover crop is relatively new. The concept has the potential of implementing cover crops into low crop diversity cropping systems in the Northern Plains, which typically have a cold and wet, spring environment. Initially, cereal rye would be seeded immediately after harvest of the cash crop. Some years this would result in little to no fall cover crop growth, however the stage would now be set for spring cover crop growth. Broadcasting or interseeding a cover crop earlier into the growing cash crop, may also be an option. Planting Green would concentrate on spring establishment of soybean, sunflower, and edible beans into an actively growing and green cover crop.
What are the benefits of Planting Green?
Erosion Control: Providing live soil armor to reduce wind and water erosion, especially during the critical spring period.
Salinity Management: Growing out our water through green plant transpiration with a salt tolerant cover crop in lieu of soil evaporation.
Water Quality: Securing post-harvest inorganic nutrient in a green plant, and released for cash crop uptake when the cover crop is terminated.
Subsurface Water Drainage: As an alternative to tile drainage, the cover would help utilize excess water in wet years and be managed with earlier termination during dry years.
Improved Trafficability: Fields with green cover crops actively growing have more load bearing capabilities; assisting spring seeding operations in wet springs.
Increase Crop Diversity: A corn – soybean crop sequence consists of two crop types; a warm season grass and a warm season broadleaf. Adding cereal rye, a cool season grass, increases crop diversity from two crop types to three crop types; which in turn provides additional pest management and crop rotation benefits.
Less Hairpinning: Greater ease of seed soil contact for planting operations.
Livestock Integration: Creates a window of opportunity to return livestock to the landscape.
Soil Health Benefits: Green cover crops give us the opportunity to harvest additional CO 2 . Providing the soil food web with additional nourishment to complete their soil services; such as cycling nutrients, improving infiltration, storing additional water, increasing soil organic matter, etc.
Weed Suppression: Cereal rye is known to suppress weeds and improve herbicide resistant weed control.