Indianapolis, IN (July 11, 2016) - Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI) is releasing two new case studies featuring cover crop solutions that have proven higher yields and healthier soil.
Roger Wenning realized that skyrocketing land prices limited his opportunities to build his farm by expanding beyond the 650 acres he farms with his sister Marita Field and sons Nick and Kevin near Greensburg, Indiana. That pushed his thinking into a new direction. "I can't grow my farm horizontally-land's too expensive-but I can grow it vertically," he says. "I can get higher yields with the same inputs, just growing it deeper." Growing deeper means building soils for better root growth and higher productivity. That requires a system that combines no-till, drainage, intensive nutrient management, cover crops and careful attention to everything that touches the soil, Wenning says, "You've got to put the whole thing together," he explains. "Two plus two equals six when you're doing this. It's a systems approach."
Mike Shuter is a big believer in building healthy soils and he wants to give cover crops every possible day to help him do it. That means seeding cover crops into standing corn and soybeans so the soil-building cover is up and running before harvest. He has designed a high-clearance seeder to help him achieve this goal. After years of trial and modification on his own unit, he's now custom-building them for other farmers eager to seed their cover crops early and often.
Mike states, "A lot of these cover crops -annual ryegrass, especially- need to have good growth in the fall to get good root development. With better root development, we'll get soil organic matter and we're developing soil health," Shuter says. "Part of our evolution in cover crops is getting them seeded earlier every year."
Wenning's and Shuter's Case Studies along with additional case studies showcasing farms in Fountain, Ripley, Hamilton and Kosciusko counties can be found on the CCSI website at: http://ccsin.iaswcd.org/economics-of-soil-health.
The Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative was launched in 2009 with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Indiana State Soil Conservation Board. CCSI is administered by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, with many partners cooperating on the project. The Initiative organizes training workshops, field days, and research for producers around the state of Indiana to share conservation practices including no-till and cover crops with a focus on regenerative soil health.