Jimmy Emmons with Tips About Cover Crops

(Jamie) Welcome to Farm Factor! Let’s join Duane and Jimmy Emmons as they discuss tips to start using cover crops.
(Duane Toews) Duane Toews, joining in once again with AGam in Kansas, and a chance to talk about cover crops and soil health with Jimmy Emmons, Leedey, Oklahoma. Jimmy, certainly you had a chance to talk to some producers in Kansas and share your story about cover crops, and what they’ve done for your operation; some interesting times that we live in and some tremendous opportunities. (Jimmy Emmons) Oh yes, the opportunity for cover crops is just really beginning. We’re seeing lots of opportunities to graze, to integrate cattle back into the system, we’ve gotten away from that over the years, and we’ve gotten typically grain, grain, grain. With these low prices of grain you can see what’s happened economically. There’s lots of opportunity for cover crops to integrate cattle back in that system. (Duane) When we think about making that decision to do so, a lot of growers that were here in attendance today may be hesitant. Really the take-home message was “Start small, learn what works for you, there’s no cookie cutter approach when it comes to soil health and cover crops”. (Jimmy) Oh yes. No matter in life if you want to be successful you’ve got to start small. Everybody wants to start with the four-wheel drive tractor and a 50-foot plow and go do farming, and if you do that you’re not going to be successful. In cover crops it’s about designing the system for your place, for your farm, for your needs. I always recommend to start off small, lease some check strips, do some double, make sure that your seeding rate is where it needs to be on your place. If you’ll do that, then you’ll be successful. Don’t give up the first year, two, or three, because it’s going to take three years to get the system going. (Duane) I was really impressed, one of things that you shared was the amount of water holding capacity relative to organic content, that’s a big key as far as what we’re trying to accomplish here. (Jimmy) You bet, we looked at the plots out here today, we had a pretty good shower this morning but that wet in front was just about that shallow and hit a hard fan, and a quite going in, it’s all about infiltration. One percent organic matter will hold 27,500 gallons. If you can increase that half percent to a percent, my gosh, you double the amount of water you had to work with, besides the nutrients, they’re $700 worth of nutrients, in the organic side for every 1%. Just think if you double or triple that organic matter in a few years what you can do with water and nutrients. (Duane) One of the big keys for some guys to be getting passed the fact that we’re using water but eventually saving more water than what we would lose to evaporation. (Jimmy) Yes, the big question about cover crops is always cost and how much water we are using. We’ve proven it at our farm by pulling cords when we’re out on water. If we’re going to graze that for an extended period of 60 days or so, yes, we’re going to use an extra couple inches of water, but we’re gaining that back in the next three months, and then getting ahead and winding up in the spring with three to five more inches, and that’s making the end difference on that crop. That water infiltration is, like I said in the meeting this morning, it’s easy to see that rain coming down, it’s hard to see that evaporation going up, but it’s even harder to see that water going in. We want to try to divert it in a terrace around instead getting it into the soil. (Duane) Thanks to Jimmy Emmons, Leedey, Oklahoma, joined us with a discussion about cover crops and what it may mean for your operation. Jamie we’ll send it back to you.
(Jamie) Thanks Duane! Folks, come back after these messages from our sponsors for this week’s Kansas Soybean Update.

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