Farmers continue to push through spring fieldwork, as made evident by my travels yesterday.
Many farmers were planting soybeans, including Tim Recker, of Arlington, Iowa.
While it?s not unusual to see farmers planting soybeans, Recker?s operation is far from usual.
Tim Recker first started incorporating cover crops into operation five years ago. Recker has witnessed the benefits first-hand and seeks ways to further implement the relatively new conservation practice onto more acres.
Yesterday, I rode alongside Recker as he planted soybeans into a green cover of cereal rye.
?The neat thing is I?m planting beans, and it?s June 3rd. We?re in a field of thigh-high rye. This is where I like to have it size-wise to plant beans. (I) started last year with seed corn. We planted rye late. Everyone knows how last year?s cover crop was late. The amazing thing is how well this stuff has grown (after) being put in in November. And it?s a good thing because as late as we are this year, this stuff would be really tall,? Recker said.
Recker reflects on his cover crop journey in stating, ?When we first started with rye, we thought a spring like this would be a disaster.? Years of experience, however, have taught him differently.
?It?s almost like a lawn out here,? Recker said. ?With the water absorption of rye, we can get on this ground quicker than our other work ground. With our (other) work ground, we had to go in and open it up with tillage to get it to dry out, and hopefully get sun and wind. With this, we?re planting between the rye plant. We?re not moving any plants; the rye stays straight,? Recker said.
Field accessibility is not the only advantage of cover crops. Recker talks about the positive outcomes he has witnessed over the past handful of years, which have kept him coming back to cover crops.
?We?ve been doing this for over five years. The great thing is the soil conservation aspects of rye,? Recker said. ?This field has a nice topography. I have several waterways. Those permanent structures do a great job of holding (the) soil in place. We were still getting erosion, until I started using cereal rye.”
“The other benefit I didn?t realize was the amount of water absorption (we) we?re getting. The rye helps move water into the soil profile, and that?s apparent in the spring of year. Those two things coupled (together) made me a believer and continue with cereal rye,” Recker said.