Submitted to: Progressive Forage Grower
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2019
Publication Date: 12/1/2019
Citation: Young, E.O. 2019. What can you do to prepare for wetter springs?. Progressive Forage Grower. 20(11):16-17.
Technical Abstract: In many regions of the US and globally, precipitation amount and intensity have increased substantially over the past century. In the Northeast and Midwest US, precipitation has increased 37 and 71%, respectively. More precipitation coupled with increasingly variable weather elevate both crop production and environmental risk. Implementing cover crops, manure incorporation and/or reduced tillage practices over the long-term can contribute to higher crop yield potential, lower erosion/runoff risk, improved nutrient use efficiency (NUE), and lower crop production risk. Cover crops planted after annual crop harvest reduce erosion potential and add soil organic matter (SOM). Some cover crops also work well in double cropping situations, such as planting winter rye or triticale after corn silage and harvesting as a hay crop the following spring. Manure incorporation/injection can dramatically improve NUE and crop yield potential while mitigating nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loss in runoff compared to broadcast application. In hay crop and pure no-till systems, low disturbance manure application (shallow disk injection or banding/aeration) can be done with minimal soil and crop disturbance. Incorporating manure also helps conserve SOM by decreasing erosional losses. Reduced tillage substantially lowers erosion potential compared to conventional tillage regimes. Long-term reduced tillage increases SOM and allows soil macropores to develop, facilitating enhanced aeration and drainage. In some cases, reduced tillage can also be more cost-effective compared to conventional tillage. Adopting these practices can help farmers mitigate crop production and environmental risk.