Brian Fager farms near Atlantic, IA and has been using cereal rye as a cover crop since 2016. He has observed improved infiltration and reduced soil erosion since he started employing cover crops and no-till practices.
Waiting for the right termination temperature: Brian says, “It’s better to wait to kill the cereal rye cover crop on a warm, sunny day with soil temperatures above 50 degrees F than to try to kill it well ahead of planting and end up getting only partial termination.”
For farmers who don’t want to let a cereal rye cover get too big before planting, Brian recommends either terminating the cover at least 7-10 days ahead of planting to avoid planting into “muck" or chasing the planter with a sprayer.
Moisture not a concern: Brian has observed that an overwintered cover won’t steal moisture from cash crops. He notes, “The cover gets evapotranspiration going earlier in the spring. As long as we have the sprayer coming fairly soon after planting, we’re not seeing any moisture-robbing.”
Employing precision planting: “One of the reasons we can make cover crops work is precision planting,” Brian explains. His planter has sharp, trailing arm, floating-style row cleaners to cut through the cover.