By Randall Reeder, P.E., Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)
The virtual Ohio No-till field day held on April 7 is available now on our website: ohionotillcouncil.com. David Brandt hosted the virtual event, which wound up as a little over 2 hours, from the Brandt Farm in Fairfield County. The program begins with comments by Terry Cosby, Chief (Acting), NRCS-USDA.
For your information, another recent virtual program, the Conservation Tillage Conference, March 9-12, is available free at: ctc.osu.edu. It has 20 hours of information on managing crops, nutrients, and pesticides, plus improving soil health.
Economics of regenerative agriculture
Eric Niemeyer, Delaware County, and David Brandt shared their experiences on the April 7 virtual program.
Eric has been continuous no-tilling with cover crops since 2014. Most cover crop mixes have been seeded with a high-clearance seeder. For corn, he has seeded just after tassel and keeps experimenting with even earlier dates. Having some rain after seeding is critical to get the cover started because the seed is laying on the surface.
He has added wheat to his corn/soybeans rotation and seeded an acre pollinator strip. Cover crops can save on fertilizer partly because the deep roots pull nutrients from the subsoil. He has two overarching goals: return on investment, and sustain and regenerate the soil while protecting the environment.
Dave’s goal is to have all fields with a 7- to 12-way cover crop mix. He has been able to reduce added nitrogen to 60 to 90 pounds per acre for corn. Nutrient density of crops has increased. For example, up to 9% protein in corn, which is mostly open pollinated. Eliminated insecticides and fungicides since 2016.
H2Ohio program on 1.1 million acres
ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda and Terry Mescher reported that the H2Ohio program has nearly 1900 farms enrolled with 1.1 million acres, 43% of the cropland in the Maumee basin. They expect to see a 10% reduction in phosphorus loading. One funded practice is to seed an overwintering cover crop by Oct. 15. They expect to expand the coverage to the entire Western Lake Erie Basin.