Alec Amundson (right) farms with his brother-in-law
Adam Norby (left), and three members of the senior generation – Randy, Steve and Dana Norby – near Osage in northern Iowa. Alec and family are dedicated to conservation: they began cover cropping about seven years ago and have been using reduced tillage and no-tillage since the 1980s.
Reaping the benefits of cover crops and no-till: Alec notes that no-till and cover cropping aren’t just about conservation for their farm; they’ve seen improvements in their soil and crops. “I’ve noticed that on the hilltops where we’ve been no-tilling and using cover crops, we don’t have the same burn off that some of the neighbors do on their hilltops.” He also says that having a green crop in the late fall gives them some flexibility on being able to apply poultry manure when other farms can’t.
Cover crop seeding rates and dates: Their farm typically flies cereal rye into standing corn going to beans at a rate of 55 pounds per acre. When drilling cereal rye after harvesting beans going into corn, they will use between 45 and 55 pounds per acre. Alec said they’ll increase their rates if they’re drilling later to get a better stand. “We want to get a good stand of rye still, so we’ll increase rates a bit if we’re harvesting late.” Since it costs more to use more seed, the sooner you can get cover crops planted, the better.
Alec’s tips and tricks:
When asked what resources he uses for decision-making on cover crops, Alec stated that Twitter has been a great resource for him and that his uncle Dana Norby has been participating in Practical Farmers of Iowa’s
Alec advises folks who are new to cover crops to get cover crops seeded as early as possible for the best results and to not be afraid to be experimental.
First year results from Alec and Dana’s field trials will be included the Cooperators Program’s study on cover crop seeding rate by date effect on biomass production and crop yield -- stay tuned!