What's the minimum time in the ground for a cover crop to achieve some good

Discussion in 'Direct Drilling Crops & Agronomy' started by David_A, Aug 15, 2018.

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  1. David_A

    David_A Member

    Location:
    Fife
    Good morning all. As title really. What's would be considered the least time or amount of growth for a cover crop to be doing good to the soil?
    After establishment is there a minimum?

    Species include beans, vetch, raddish, peas, buckwheat, phacelia, crimson clover, rye, oats and barley.

    Location Fife, Scotland.

    Thank you.
     
  2. balbirniefarm

    balbirniefarm Member

    Location:
    Freuchie, Fife
    Is there anyone out there who has an opinion?
     
  3. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield
    Depends on so many things, mostly moisture and temperature

    My cut off for a cover crop ahead of a spring crop is september 1st and ahead of a late autumn drilled crop its 14th August

    power both dates also depend upon moisture and temperatures
     
  4. David_A

    David_A Member

    Location:
    Fife
    Thanks Clive. That's roughly what we think too. Was just trying to get a feel for the amount of top and root growth that may be considered worth it from a short term cover.
     
  5. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    Location:
    Dorset
    You should change you species mix as it gets later. I've had good biomass cover from Vetch plus rye and/or mustard sown in early September. I wouldn't bother with buckwheat or phacelia as vetch is slow to establish and buckwheat will be nuked by the first frost.

    Do you have the means to establish it earlier by broadcasting into a standing crop in July?
     
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  6. martian

    martian DD Moderator

    Location:
    N Herts
    This year it's been so dry, it would have been a complete waste of time broadcasting into a standing crop. It wasn't even worth drilling into stubbles post harvest in July, so it's all a bit academic. Where we had an understorey of red clover (more by mistake than planning) in a field of spelt, the spelt completely crowded out the clover. I was hoping that the straw would be a nice feed mix, but turned out to be pure spelt straw, which is nice enough. In a wet year the clover would have likely been a menace at combining, although the spelt was five foot tall so perhaps not
     
  7. juke

    juke Member

    Location:
    DURHAM
    if you can get them in the ground now or in the next day or two try it see what happens, maybe put a little bit of nitrogen on them to give them a helping start, you don't know till to you try, we planted most of those things last year on the 24 th august it turned very cold for the end of august here and the first week or two of September so was slow to get going. we didn't put any fert on but you being a 150 mile north of where we are the nitrogen might just give you a help..we had great roots going down a fair way and generated a bit nitrogen n all the other benefits for the following spring crop.
     
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  8. David_A

    David_A Member

    Location:
    Fife
    Thanks for the responses. To clarify, the species listed are not all in the pot together. We have been trying covers for a few years now. Once your into September up here the only things worth it are cereals and maybe raddish. Vetch seems to lack vigour but we end up using it to satisfy greening, the slugs and pigeons nail it. Crimson clover doesn't seem to establish well. Larger seeds are more successful hence trying peas and beans this year.
    We put in 180ha a year ahead of spring cropping. The rye will do a good job, (we have found the roots 5 deet down in March) especially if grazed. Trying to keep broad leaved covers ahead of spring cereals and cereal based stuff ahead of the broadleaved crops. My head says this is better for disease carry over etc.
    Usually there is not must time between harvest and sowing up here so covers not worth it. However early harvest this year gives us opportunity to do more before winter crops, hence the original question.
    We use a 750A to establish or broadcast and cultivate if field needs a level (plenty veg in rotation just to undo the good work).
    We have tried hand broadcasting into standing crops. Worked ok in winter barley but not in oats, probably lack of residual fertility in that situation. More work to do on this front but harvest timing is maybe more unpredictable here, so more chance of too much greenery in the unharvested crop, the last thing we need here.
    Add to this the idea that we should be aiming at earlier drilling if using no till, the window can be small.
    Do covers that have only reached first true leaves before destruction put much into the soil health pot.

    A long post I know, but gives a bit more background behind the question.
     
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  9. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    Location:
    Dorset
    Mine were done in late July, mostly just before a wet 28mm weekend so they took quite well. Where we've only just cut some of the wheat that was knocked over by that storm the cover crop was coming up through. Luckily not much ended up in the tank & the straw was chopped so happy days.
     
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  10. 4course

    4course Member

    Location:
    north yorks
    we have found that white mustard whilst not as bulky or as deep rooted as some catch crops is cost effective, does a good job re volunteer and weed control plus disease gap ( interestingly the fields this harvest year 17/18 and last year sown with cc mustard did well) as long as it germinates straight after sowing and the minimum time to grow/leave is 6 weeks. This means the stuff we will be hopefully sowing tue/wed will not be destroyed and sown with wheat before 1st week october, our efa already sown will have to wait until 15th but that is already showing first true leaves. We will plough semi work throw mustard on roll leave then on due sowing date ph and drill into easy to make seedbeds, the mustard helps keeping the soil in a workable condition wether its wet or dry just have to be ready to go when conditions allow as the big danger is getting too wet or too dry but anything is better than puddling it in later, as an aside we havnt used more than 1 bag of slug pellets across the areas so treated in the last 3 years
     
  11. Flat 10

    Flat 10 Member

    Location:
    Fen Edge
    How big does the mustard get in this scenario?
     
  12. 4course

    4course Member

    Location:
    north yorks
    knee high at least usually
     
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  13. Flat 10

    Flat 10 Member

    Location:
    Fen Edge
    And how do you incorporate it without blocking drill? Because you have ploughed it already....
     
  14. 4course

    4course Member

    Location:
    north yorks
    just ph and it disappears,
     
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