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Integrating Cover Crops Into High Tunnel Production Systems

Ashlee Skinner



  • January 15, 2021
    2:45 PM
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All right so it is 245 so we're going to go ahead and get started my name is Ashley Skinner and we're going to be talking about Enter grading cover crops into high panel production systems so please raise your hand if you have a farm that has a high tunnel on it now Ok All right we got 3 and raise your hand if you have put grown any cover crops in your high tunnel as obvious Ok Great All right so we have some people who already a little bit familiar So just an outline of what we're going to cover Oh and before we go there also here is my contact information if you have questions and we don't get to cover them in the class you're able to text me or you're able to e-mail me at this e-mail so and that's reads frolic in Flora g. mail dot com And then here is my phone number as well so yes I did research at a state that's where I did my master's and my studies were on cover grabbing items All right. So in outline we're going to be covering a few things we're going to talk about the general overview of practices that are used in high panels for school health management and they're going to talk about the benefits of cover crops and how to practically plan for your cover crops inside your high tunnel rotations. All right so full production in high tunnels tunnels as you can see here are semi-permanent structures when I started this research was really funny getting to talk to my family like oh I'm talking I've been studying about cover crapping in high tunnels and it's just. You know I don't know what a cover Gravity is that I've said all is so it really makes up for interesting conversation but as you can see here this is a high tunnel we have one right outside to that with quickly built which was really cool but the farmers generally depend on high tunnels because of the micro climate that it creates inside the high tunnel it allows you in some locations to do year round growth and then it also helps because for example like say living in Florida where we can have a lot of climatic weather and your crops could be wiped out by hurricane and all these things having a high tunnel that installed properly you can help mitigate some of those things however in high tunnels food production. Tunnels generally use intensively so the soil that is under the under the cover is usually used to the point where it can become lifeless So what researchers are looking to do is how to figure out how to build up the soil especially for using it in this type of structure where the soil is this is pretty much of a permanent structure now with new technology there now are. And there now our movable tunnels we actually installed a couple movable tunnels on our research farm and pretty much they have the tunnels on rails so you can cultivate 2 different areas of land at different times so while one side will be fallow the next side will be growing and then you can switch back and forth which was helpful in making sure that the soil was not quickly degraded so some of the production practices that are used today include high fertilizer input which can cause an unbalance with your. Macronutrient and then some of the biggest things that happen are your changes in your carbon and organic matter so the changes that are seen within the high tunnel physically and also in the outdoor is your top 6 inches of your soil because that's the tillage layer that's where you're telling that's where you're extracting plants that's where you're putting in all the fertilizer inputs so it's very sensitive to changes. And especially in a protected cropping system you can have those things be exacerbated because you're not able to get rainfall of course inside the tunnel so a lot of you can have salt build up inside your tunnel so healthy soil is what we're all striving for we want to have a healthy soil and there are many interpretations of what a healthy soil is and what that looks like some of the main things that we want in a healthy soil is one that is of structural quality has good water holding capacity and allows for proper drainage an air ation we want one that contains all the nutrients and organic matter as and also one that can support below ground organisms and one of the reasons too that I want to share that with farmers and high tunnel usage and why we find it so important that quite a few universities are trying to figure out how to better manage the soil in the high panels is because a farmer who typically buys a high tunnel sometimes that can be one of their biggest. Most pricey pieces of real estate on their farm you know especially like the tunnel that I was managing was a 200 foot tunnel and there's all these maintenance costs replacing the poly all of those things so you know you want to make a return on your investment and some of the troubles that we typically have when talking to farmers is you have to convince them that growing a cover crop inside their tunnel is were the opportunity costs of actually growing another crop So let's talk a little bit more about that all right so you want good soil quality So as you see here this is just possibly showing very elementary wise like what poor soils look like so with your poor soils you're not going to have as much water availability throughout the year but when you want to do if you want to have a good soil where you can have water availability throughout the whole year in some of the ways that you could do that say for example if you're on the open field is 5. Mulching and using different methods such as that but cover cropping is also a method that can be used so we see here we have a carbon cycle and one of the benefits of a cover crop as well is that you're able to extract some of the carbon that's out in the air through growing plant species if then you also have cover you have carbon that's added back into the soil through the decomposition process and that's very similar to in the nitrogen cycle that you have nitrogen that is being cycle throughout the system and being made available or being immobilized within your soils so as I spoke earlier you also want to have a. Diverse healthy soil community what we found in our research studies for I had 2 projects I was looking at cover cropping in high tunnels and I was also looking at the soil biome within the high tunnels and I'm not going to get to share very much about that today but we found that it lacks a lot of complexity when you compare the high tunnel soils to your open field soils the amount of complexity is just mind boggling to see that you have really a small amount of species that are there present in your hypo soils especially just because you've been using it intensively so in our high funnel soils we've pretty much found might my smites my skill or maybe a few the muscles but not nearly enough to really be able to help in that nitrogen cycling so as we know it's important to have a diverse soil community because then it will help with the plant being able to fight off diseases and pests pressure in all those things so soil improvement is important that's one of the biggest things when it comes to soil management we want to add organic matter we want to loosen the tie Klav that is in the soil we want to increase the water holding capacity and we also want to help with the. Ion exchange capacity which is important when it comes to mitigating or managing your ph of your soils you know we found that in our high kernel soils I don't know if anyone else who has high tonnage you understand that sometimes you can find you go in your high tunnels they have like this harpin. For your soil especially if you had a lot of traffic in and out of your soil and it's hard to grow in that type of environment so you have to keep that in mind that every little thing that you do in your soil in your tunnel it can affect your plant growth later on in the future so some of the practices that are typically used in a height on an open field system is to use compost or to use degradable mulch is and cover crop residues to add organic matter to the soil so compost has some of it's been if it's though there are many benefits when it comes to compost a lot of times compost is a thing that people just do in their backyard they'll just say oh this is compost even though there is like a scientific process when it comes to the compost and and one of the lectures earlier this week they were able to share about that composting is not just all of your food scraps you put it together and say oh this is compost now you kind of want to start and blend your greens and your Browns and if you're adding manure to your compost see one I'll also certain amount of that you don't want to go overboard so there's many benefits and you can find compost pretty much anywhere but there are also as you see here they are just laying out compost out on the field before they're going to plant. But with your compost You can also have some cons when it comes to your compost for example some of these Sometimes your compost can hold weed seeds so you want to be careful and you want to make sure that your compost go through the right cycle that it needs to go says to be ready for putting in your garden All right so calculating fertilizer needs so I'm not I'm not. Sure if anyone here uses like their own fertilizer calculation but pretty much when it comes to doing vegetable production you'd typically need a between $100.50 pounds of nitrogen per acre and you can take that quantity and you can reduce that to for your field size I actually have a calculator that I could send to you guys if you give me your e-mail your name and if you express your interest I can send you an e-mail in an e-mail an Excel calculator where you can calculate that based off of your farm square inches and let you know like how much cover crop you should grow all of a thing so as you think here this is how you typically calculate your fertilizer needs. Pretty much you have the square acreage and you're not going to get it so say if you have your square acreage and use $100.00 pounds per acre so they need 50 pounds and when you actually utilize your compost you have to realize that out of the 100 percent of this compost if you have only 3 percent of it might be nitrogen so when it comes down to it the available at least the 30 percent of it is available nitrogen because you can have a large amount of nitrogen and not be in an available form for your plant so this would help the stuff doing the calculations will help you know how much compost how much cover crops how much amendments you need for your crops so as I stated earlier compost has a few cons also you can have excess of plant nutrients which can cause your soil to be burned out and you can see that in the physiology of some of your plants you'll start seeing some burning there where it's just that it was just too high of phosphorus too high potassium and then also you have some times you can get compost from Probably not some credible people and it can have some things in there that are not best for your farm like say some heavy metals and things of that nature so you just want to be careful especially where you're getting your compost if you are going to use combos I would suggest make your own home. All right and then some other concerns when it comes to compost would be your food safety concerns so you want to make sure that if you are going to try to be selling your food for market that is highest quality and it's safe for consumers so some of the rules that we have when it comes to manure and compost is that you want your manure to be laid at least $100.00 while no no less than 120 days before you harvest it in for compost no less than 90 days before you harvest so that all of the microbes can break these things down and make sure that it's not unhealthy for the consumer if it so then mulch is so you have a variety of different mulches mulching is a valuable practice and for cover for some people who grow cover crops that grow it simply just to become a mole However some you do have the opportunity to fill it in and incorporated into the soil whichever way you would like to use it but it helps with conserving the soil moisture and controlling weed pressure sorry it's like my slides keep on going faster than me all right so then you have organic mulch is of course which could be made out of variety of things leaves straws I've seen people use like newspaper clippings all these different things for mulch is it then you can also have some sense that it mulches which are made out of plastics. So I don't have anything to say negatively about using newspaper because it breaks down quickly it's not I would say it's not the best mulch that you could choose because the it's going to break down very quickly you're actually if you really want something for the purpose of suppressing weeds using like wood chips or something of that nature that breaks down slowly will be more beneficial. For this phone and that makes. Yeah. Yeah. The. No no that's actually a really good practice because you're having an even better opportunity for weed suppression if you do it in that way I know with us whenever we would do mulching we typically since we're using like $200.00 foot long high tunnels we're using garden fabric and what we would do is we would burn holes in the fabric and we would transplant the plants right into the hole so that you know we're not having to move around a lot of mulch and stuff like that all right so as you see here this is just like a heavily our mulch area and I think this is some sweet potatoes that are growing. And then here this is an example of the plastic mulching that you could use in for Bez you could do it like this in a tunnel and on the open field we actually had this set up in the tunnels for our pepper plants that we were growing and tomato plants as well and then this is just another picture of seeing how the mulching the plastic mulching and this is how it actually looks inside of a tunnel whenever we would do our summer crops we would as I showed you we would use the mulch the what is the fabric garden fabric and we would just burn holes and of interest plant them right in there and what we would do is since we believe in cover crops we would put we would do cover cropping cut down the cover crops and we would water it to help with promoting the composition so we can add those nutrients to the soil and then we would cover it with garden fabric so we weren't out there spending any time weeding you know we were able to quick just go out there to harvest and to prune and do those types of things so cover crops so cover crops are known as green manures they are extremely important 1st soil health we've talked about how they're helpful with or adding organic matter to the soil they can also recovered nitrogen so a lot of times at the you are growing after you finish growing Attash crop sometimes you still have some usable nitrogen still left in your soil and being able to grow a cover crop allows the cover crop to capture that nitrogen and then once you terminate the cover crop which means to cut down the cover crop to add it back to the soil that nitrogen can be added back to the soil so it's reducing the amount of nitrogen that's in your soil that gets immobilized because nitrogen that's immobilized simply means that the plant can't can no longer reach it to use it for you to be able to consume it as a vegetable or fruit or anything of that nature so and for a cover crops you can use it in no till and strip tillage systems. So I think you see here this is just showing you how you can get a lots and lots of organic matter from your cover crops for those who've grown cover cops if you've grown anything like sedan sorghum sedan grass that thing can get high high high high in the sky so you know you get a lots and lots of organic matter from it. All right so and you're able to grow your own mole mulch so cover crop residues can be used as mulch and when they're used as mulch they give you both soil carbon and nitrogen as well. So when we talk about nitrogen All right so pretty much with my research we were investigating cover crops and high tunnels and we did 2 different seasons we did winter cover crops and we did some recover cops So this is some of the data from my research study where we were using winter cover crops now we had variable. Variable results between the 2 years and they were specifically significant so we had to actually evaluate them separately so as you see here there's 20182019 information put separately but in the same table so we had 8 different had 7 cover crops but 8 treatments so we had a control treatment where that means we weren't growing any cover crop in that plot that we had try to Caylee which as you know is a hybrid of rye and wheat then we had hairy Vetch and we had we and we had rye and then we had 3 treatments where they were a mixture of using a legumes and egress that we would use try to Caylee and vet we Ryan vet so right here is just showing you what our winter cover crop biomass was as you can see here we did we had higher biomass the yields in 2018 men 2019 and there's a story for that the reason why we had higher yields and 28 seed is because they were not eaten by deer and to put it into steam we had a night where deer came in and the whole thing merrily the whole thing and so the it was really hard for us to actually get the crops to grow back by the time for us to terminate the study so in 2018 we had high yields which were more typical to what you would see if you're in the outdoor field and what we saw was that we had very high yield for Ryan that. And also for our rye and pretty much all of ours the cept for Harry bit Terry vets seem not to do well in high tunnel systems and we're not sure if it's just because of high tunnel systems or where we were growing. We have had some issues with growing our hairy vets out in the open fields as well in Kansas so we're not really sure exactly why but we had a lot of issues with that crop. So here is our summer cover crop biomass So follow the same protocol but now this was in the summer season where we planted the cover crops in June and we terminated them and we terminated them in September for 2018 and we terminated them in August and 2019 now the crops that we had we had the bare control which was no cover crop then we had Buckwheat Buckwheat and cowpie which was our mixture of having But we with the Laguna species a benefit of having the legumes species as they fix nitrogen so you can have a higher nitrogen constant that's added to the soil we had cowpie by itself we had Japanese Millet that we grew Millet with cowpie we had sorghum Sadan grass and then we had sort of Sudan grass grown with Kelpie So as you can see here we had a higher biomass and 2018 and we believe that was simply because we grew it for longer we terminated in 2018 in September whereas in 2019 we didn't terminate we terminated it earlier in August and we had a reason why we did that and I'll walk you through that in the next slide but I just want to make sure that you guys are able to understand and interpret this so as you see here it's giving you how much pounds per acre we've got from each crop and then here the lettering is supposed to show you the statistical significance and if you don't care about that you can just you know exit that out Iran is then this is also showing you the heights so how tall your cover crop grew and you know you definitely need to be mindful with how tall you're hyper now live with which cover crop you want to grow you probably don't want to grow sort of Sedan grass if you're have a very small sort of high tunnel or at least you want to be mindful of when you're going to terminate. All right so we're going to look at the summer cover crops available nitrogen So to calculate the summer cover crop available nitrogen we use the plant available nitrogen calculator which has been adapted and modified by many different sources so you can find that very easily but the pan calculator is shows us how much of the nitrogen that's in the tissues would actually be made available for your plant so because there's a lot of nitrogen if you're looking at nitrogen it's a lot of nitrogen that you're adding to your soil that is actually in a unusable form for your plant of this is the amount that will be usable for your plant so what we found is that in our summer cover crops in 20182019 we found that we had a high yield because the typical recommendation for nitrogen for vegetables is 102150 pounds per acre of nitrogen and people people are typically using fertilizer to get those returns but if you're using a cover crop as you can see here they were able to get between 50 to 100 so in some cover crops such as the sorghum sedan gave you $94.00 pounds of nitrogen per acre so cover cropping is actually a very easy very efficient way of adding nitrogen back to your soil. All right so if you're looking here this is our winter cover crops that we're looking at the soil told on nitrogen and this is different cover crops are outlined here based off of their different color I'm so sorry I really think I should have made those lines. So that you could see it better from the back but as you can see here we had the terminations of the cover crop was Daisy or own and we. Looked we've tested the soil each week from all the way to week 8 so as we see here in soil total nitrogen for year one which was $28.00 seen we had the peak of of bailable total nitrogen around a week for which was like around week $28.00 and it was the same for 2019 around week $28.00 is when you saw that there is a highest amount of nitrogen available in the soil so then you look at the summer it was a little different 1st summer we found that the highest amount of nitrogen that was available in the summer for the year one was at week 8 if we look here for 2019 the highest amount was at week to about Day 14 is when we saw that you had the highest amount of nitrogen and then it started to decline from there for most crops. All right so many of the cover crops in the high panel performed very well you can't really that is me in the picture trying to measure. The cover crop we have to cover crop measure the height that each stage so our winter and rye are once a riot and summer Sudan grass did very well and our high panel and we found that our cowpies actually produced 25 to 50 percent more in the our high funnel compared to open field studies. So most winter cover crops did well but the hairy vets just didn't do well and it could simply be because of our region so Harry vets might do very well for you depending on where you are we had a high potential available nitrogen as I discussed we had 50 to 100 percent for most of our summer across summer cover crops and then we also had $50.00 to $200.00 pounds per of nitrogen per acre for our winter cover crops and rye produce by itself $100.00 pounds per acre so our winter legumes as we said did not do well we were really sad about that because Harry that says like a great crop you really get a lot of nitrogen return from Perry but so we're really amped up about this and for it to not do well was really it was really separate So timing of planting and terminations is important one of the things that we found with our winter legumes was that the winter lagoons when we did our winter cover crops we planted our winter cover car up around. It was October we planted them around October and when we print planted them in October we've got really cold weather in Kansas and these crops just didn't do well with it they didn't over winter as well so when it came to when the spring season came they didn't really put on biomass like the other ones did the other ones actually did well during the winter they still held strong and they put on a lot of biomass come spring time but we didn't have that with Harry vege so it might not be the best for the central states region Ok so terminations and nitrogen returns so the timing of terminations is important we change the timing as I spread for the summer cover crops the 1st year we only had $77.00 days for growing our summer cover crops and it was great we had all this growth and we're like everybody's coming over looking at our high tunnel and all this office cover crap we have growing but then now when it came down to terminating especially since it was an experimental study where we had to make sure that all of the cover crop for each experiment stayed within its own box. It was a nightmare because we had very high growth of the sorghum sedan grass that was really hard to break it down and we also found that allowing these cover crops to grow for so long the stocks became lignin 5 they were no longer soft and easy to cut down they were it was like I was trying to cut down sugarcane. I felt like it was just it was just hard to cut down so we were like you know we have to switch this up for the following year and we found that changing the amount of time that we allowed the cover crops to grow actually still gave us big returns so timing is important and that's something that you're able to manipulate manipulate on your own so the mature sort incident grass it was just way too late in a 5 and we also had problems with it pressing up against our high tunnel we're like we're not trying to replace poly again we just replace that So you know we had to make some adjustments so potential early terminations of some recover crops is actually something that is great because you can still have a high amount of nitrogen returns even though you might have a lower yield you're going to have higher amount of nitrogen because once your stocks get lignin 5 they actually have less percent nitrogen still in them so you can terminate early and still get your nitrogen returns All right so we also had some other nutrients that we were looking at in our cover crop study that I didn't add all those results here but we looked at carbon in organic matter and what we were surprised about is we saw significant changes in the soil carbon and organic matter within 2 years of our cover cropping study even within the 1st year of cover crop doing our cover cropping for. Now that is unlike anything that you see in the open field generally in the open field you have to they say cover cropping has long term effects you know 3 to 4 years down the line you're going to see that your soil has more carbon and organic matter composition but we saw that within the 1st year and within the 2nd year and it looks like it was a cumulative effect from the 2nd year so we're that we're finding that that could possibly be be because of the micro climate that is created within the high sun along with that micro-climate it's actually adding it's concentrating the heat inside the tunnel you're Abe since they're splashed Stick around you're able to conserve a little bit more of that flow moisture it's creating an environment that is breaking down your cover crops quicker than in the open field because it's concentrated in this close system so we found that you're able to get faster results in actually improving your soil health if you do cover cropping within your tunnels. All right so here is actually a picture and some data from a study that was conducted in North Carolina State University where they did a study where they were growing rye and vet and they grew them together within a hive tunnel and they grew it also in the open field as you can see here in the high tunnel the amount of rye that they got was $3749.00 pounds per acre and the amount of that they had was $329.00 pounds per acre but if you look at these numbers and compare it to the open field where for rye they only had $721.00 pounds and for the bench they did get more as I told you vets just. Sometimes the high tunnels they did get more but we see the available nitrogen differences are big the amount of nitrogen that was now available in the high panel was significantly higher than the amount that you would have gotten from just doing cover crops in the open field. All right so far to lies in with cover crops. That is an important thing when it comes to fertilize and cover crops as I said there's a calculator that can be used generally when you're looking at your young tissues your young tissues has 3.5 to 4 percent nitrogen within their socks and then when they're at the flowering stage you have 3 to 3.5 percent so you kind of want to terminate your cover crop before it gets to the flowering stage as much as possible and that's the same for your grass species because then it just loses the nitrogen because you're putting that nitrogen into flowering of they're using it for work and it's no longer available for you when you want to go ahead and use it for adding it back to the soil so this is the calculator that I was talking about that for those who are interested I have a book up here we can write down your name and email and I can give you the calculator for you to use it on your own on your field. All right so which cover crops to grow so it all depends on your growing region where you are on which cover crops may be the best for you to use we found that in Kansas you could do cover crops in each season one season that didn't do very well with 2 we had to nix it from our study was doing the winter killed season so once or killed is like you grow it quickly right before winter time of the You Cut it down right when winter comes and we just found like you had like this much growth so it just it worked out very well so if you're in a warmer climate you could pretty much to cover crops all year round if you find the right Hardy crops to grow and so which cover crops have you guys been familiar with using those who have done cover cropping revive that. Na is not a Sun him that's a good one but and you said you did have a crop right with clover Yes clover the Great. This. Is the best so one of the one school that I didn't want to share with you guys is that you could always go so Cornell University they have a tool that can help you figure out which cover crop to use on your field so if you go to Cornell University Extension they have like a cover crop tool that can help you find which cover crop you can use based off of what your needs are in your soil like if you just like you know my soil is just it's a hard pan or my soil is just not it doesn't have good infiltration they can come up and they have like this tool to help to figure out which cover probably should try using yes yes yes yes so if you let me get this out yeah for those who would like to write the name and e-mail me. Are Right so planning for cover crops as I said it's important for you to keep in mind that this is a cycle like if you're wanting to use your cover crop for us for the use of it returning the nitrogen back to your soil rather than just using it as a multi that you're just laying on top you want to be mindful of the time that it takes for the 4 to actually be mineralized or for the nutrients not to be released as we showed with our winter and summer cover crops they had 2 different times where the nutrients were the highest and when the nutrients of the highest is where you would want to transplant your cash crop is when it's right at the high peak or at least right before that high peak because in that's when your crop is going to need it the most is when it's in its early stages of growth so you don't want to wait until now your thing your cover crops are completely broken down and now the vailable nitrogen is now lost because it's been a mobilize. All right so soil nutrient releases so nutrient release appears to take place in our study at day 28 for the winter cover crops and we're finding that that's typical for actually some other studies as well that day $28.00 for want to cover crops is usually when you're in nitrogen is made most of a level and then we found in our summer treatments that a day 14 which was 2 weeks at least in a high tunnel after 2 weeks is when your nutrients were the highest where you can go ahead and plant your cash crop so that your cash crop can absorb and take those nutrients So in typical studies growers typically plant their cash crop 4 to 6 weeks after they finish after they've incorporated their cover crop Yes we actually incorporated it in and I should actually share a little bit more of what those methods look like so we would terminate our cover crop and then we installed a sprinkler air Gratian inside of our high panel so we would irrigate it well and then we would tell it in and then after we would fill it in we would take our samples every week to see what the nitrogen was looking like each week and that's how we were able to find out this information. So yes the keeping in mind your timing is important because in your high tunnel things are happening rapidly because of the microclimate that's in there so if you wait too late for your summer cover crops you kind of miss the opportunity to be able to get the nitrogen from that from most Democrats so now practical planning for cover cropping you want to figure out a farm plan and know every year before farmers get out that kind of plant and make a plan and if you want to make a plan when it comes to cover crops it can look similar to this where if you're doing your warm season vegetables you do a winter cover crop if the you do a cash bin after the winter cover crop is finished you do it your cash crop in the Go back to winter cover crop and this is just like an example of what that can look like for you and it depends on what you want your crops to be. At least you're cash crops so then you figure out you want to cover costs based off of your hardiness zone and what you're actually wanting for your soil so this is also another example of what someone who was very interested in using cover crops in rotations with their actual cash crop says you can see here they have clover that was growing between January and April then they grew some beings from May to September and then they started that you know from July to April so things like this if you continue to have a cycle with your cover crops you're always adding nutrients back to your soil you're always building up that soil and you're doing it in a way that less. Has less cost comes to what can actually happen with your soil because there's a lot of buffering that can happen with it so challenges of cover crops managing cover crop biomass as I said is very very difficult and could be stressful especially since you're managing it in a smaller space if you're doing it in a high tunnel it's a smaller space it's not like an open field where you can always just get on the track there and you know Moet down so if you're in a small. If you're working in a small high tunnel generally you're going to be using like a walk behind tractor to do so or you know if you want to cut a down yourself with hand shears we did some we had to do a lot of that because we were working with small experimental units event so just also thinking about the equipment that you're going to use whether you're using your cover crops in the high tunnel or in the open field and then you have to think of disease impressed pest pressure so a lot of times if you're growing your cover crops in not the best kinds of conditions you can see that there are some disease and pest pressure that could happen. So event another thing to remember is regrowth So you were happy when you saw your cover crops grow and you know you probably did a little dance but what can happen is that if you don't make sure that your cover crops stop growing before coming to seed you can have those cover crops keep growing keep coming up right when you're trying to grow your cash crop and they're going to compete for the a nice to gin in the soil and then you're going to have this competition issue you definitely don't want to get that get that when it comes to Japanese Millett we kept seeing Japanese militarists popping up everywhere you know we were going crazy because we're just like this is not so so you could be in this plot you know so you want to make sure your cover crops don't go to seed same 4 sorghum sedan grass it will just keep on coming if you if you terminate it too late so as you see here we had a we had a method of making sure that we would grow our cover crops in our high tunnel and sometimes we would just take all the plastic off of our tunnel so we can so we don't have to do the whole irrigation business was just let the rain you know hit it so we were very active and on our farm with putting plastic on and taking plastic off it was not fun at all but you know our farmers like us just take the plastic off today you know but you know doing things like that also help with making sure that that environment under the tunnel is not so. That the environment in the tunnel does still mirror a little bit what is happening in the open field so that you can reduce the amount of salinisation and things that happen inside the tunnel. Yeah so 1000 Eyes ation is a big deal especially if you're using fertilizer and if you're using certain compost especially if you're not making the compost yourself you have to be mindful that some of the products that can be put in the compost can actually have high amount of salt in it so that in now you can be building up a fall inside your tunnels so you want to just be mindful of allowing that you're allowing your tunnel to be able to have the right amount of nutrients and not has too much either so one thing that we find is a benefit to cover crops is that you're getting a large amount of nutrients but you're getting it in a way where still has some of the other elements where there's a lot of buffering that happens where it's not going to go ahead and burn your soils All right so then as you see here this is just more images of growing a cover crop in the high panel and they had just a little Sprinkler sprinkler heads here until they decide to change it and actually do overhead sprinklers and can and some cover crops so you can get really creative with how you cut down your cover crop depending on what size you're tunnel is so he was just using like a weed whacker and just cutting it down and then he would go back with a walk behind tractor to tell it in. So here you go here that's the b.c.s. one of our favorites. As a walk behind tractor so some of the take homes that we have for this is that your stall and water are most valuable resources on your farm so you want to make sure you're taking care of these things and you want to make sure you're conserving them so adding mulch can be a perfect way to help with adding to for helping improve your soil as well as conserving your moisture that's on your farm and you also want to protect your soil and feed your soil and you know while a high tunnel is a great asset on your farm you have to make sure that when you're using your high tunnel that you're using it in a way where you're also protecting your piece of real estate that you have there so you have to remember yes the high tunnels structure is your real estate but that soil that soil is what does all the work really so you have to protect it as much as possible so use cover crops make a plan that works you're not always going to get everything that you want out of cover cropping at least you might think I'm going to get all $150.00 pounds this year probably won't and that's fine but you just have to be realistic in knowing that I'm going to cover crop now and them going to grow my cash crop and afterward I'm going to do cover crops again and you're tunnel you'll see cumulative effects in your tunnel just having better soil quality so and you also want to make sure that you keep your rotations use what you rotation so you don't always want to grow the same cash crop inside your tunnel you know so you can do a cover crop do a cash crop that maybe peppers Next time do tomatoes you know switch it up it also helps with creating a better biome in your soil All right so that is it is there any questions I'm welcome to take this. All right so sorry to hear that but. Yeah you mention. One of these. Yeah yeah and then once he ate that yeah that was a big difference and the reason why is because we waited with the summer cover crops for the 1st year we didn't terminate them until $77.00 days after growth so after $77.00 days of growth we had very little to 5 stocks it take a long time for that to break down and for those nutrients to be released that's why we found that it wasn't in so weak a that the nitrogen was available. So so they were still within the same range I can actually show you that. The size the see here sell the level within week 8 and where we used it in like Percentage wise so there were still within the same range between the. Point 2 all the way to point 2 to 5 and you see here we have it between point 21.235 So it was within the same range and so there really wasn't any benefit of growing it that long and the other questions. Oh. So Ok so we really wanted to look at all facets of the micro biome out of you know when we got the study the grant to do the study I was like all can we apply for another grant because I would love to see what the ecosystem looks like in here and so we started writing out what we wanted to do and we realized that we would need a lot more people to do all of these things so we reduced it to just looking at what the arthropods were within the soil so we didn't get to do bacterial studies it was just going to cost too much so we were going to we wanted to do bacterial and fungal studies to see what the species were that were that existed during that time in the tunnel but then we realized too it wasn't going to be as fruitful unless we were comparing it to what's actually happening in the outdoor in the open field to actually smack a comparison because we could say oh we found all these bacteria here but then how useful is it if we're like Ok but we don't know what's in there because it's just so expensive to do those type of studies. Yeah so actually how that related to our crop growth so after 2 weeks is where we put in our cash crops and for the summer cash crop and we actually had it was. It was spinach because we terminated our summer cash crop in like September August and we grew spinach our spinach did better in the year that we terminated earlier the year that we terminated later it was just hard because even with us doing all of the cutting it down and telling there was just these big clumpy pieces of licking the 5 thoughts which really crowded out the spinach from being able to grow because you know we're like well maybe we can try transplanting spinach but nobody wants a transplant and it's just like Are you crazy you know if you you know we what we pretty much what I can now we're going to have to see the subpoenas and see how it does and we saw that the 2nd year when we terminated earlier we actually had a good spin and shields Yeah cover crops are great even in no school systems so for example we're talking about like using it in open field or Hi Tony. You know one yeah either way it works well granted you do reduce the benefit of having it as a source of a high source of available nitrogen if you just allow it to be more so in a no till kind of setting because you're just allowing it to lay on the top surface but it's great for still reducing Wesen is still going to add organic matter to your soil song is still great now you know you write that you come back for. All. You. Know I have not been in the experiments with that so the cover crop was still growing is still growing you would just plants for. Oh wow. No I have not done that I would think there would be some sort of there would be some comp competition though for space and for nutrients with doing that so it's not something that I would probably do but maybe some of. The best good that's good you have to follow. I'm not sure with that really that sounds very subjective really I know on our fields we did cover crops and open field and high tunnel and we're doing it in the open field where use and a flail more so those are really easy of course we didn't have to cut down the cover crop 1st until it we just got on the tractor and just you know motor down but I think I think it's really just subjective I know for us working in a high tunnel you know we're using a small walk behind tractor and we just found it easier to just cut it in. Well. Our biggest thing was don't do that again next time and then we realized well there are some things that we just weren't going to do our high tunnel was organically managed and we wanted to make sure that we weren't using any random things out in our field and we for the sake of the integrity of the study so there was not much that we could do other than just make sure that it doesn't go to seed again and or make sure that you are properly mulching with like we would use the plastic mulch to really help reduce the likelihood of the weeds being able to get enough light to come on. Well the cover cop come up again which is a weak point. You know haven't been Sounds interesting about. Yeah so that's what we would do when we were in the open field we were just and a lot of times we would grow our melons right into it for our sweet potatoes right into it in the. Town I was managing just because the with of it we weren't really able to get that tunnel with the implement on there in there. And now so if anything I would say the heat that was in the high tunnel was actually promoting mineralisation So it was promoting the nutrients to be released but you know once the nutrients are released they have to be taken up or they're going to become immobilized you know there is really does take some good planning if you want to get the full benefits but even if you don't plan it to a tee like that you can still get great benefits from doing a cover crop rotation and your cattle it's. Only. Right. For you you know. We're. 2 years. On a. So for us. It was simply just using a walk behind tractor that was pretty much all we could do and for some of our plots we had to actually just cut it down with hand shares ourselves to try to keep it within its experimental unit but with you're doing it in your high town on your Of course you're not trying to do an experiment some people might be trying to do their own experiment so you're not really caring about where the cover crop lands you know just using any kind of walk behind tractor it works fine and if you don't have a tractor you can cut it down yourself or and figure out other methods but it's not it's not it's not anything to stress about yeah so we did have a small crimper that we would use at 1st some of our other high tunnels where we weren't managing like doing multiple experiments in that one tunnel because for example we had another tunnel where we were simply just growing hairy bats and we would have a small crimper on the walk behind. Yeah so you could do that too. So yeah so we did not do fall however we did look at the infiltration rate within the hive tunnel from doing cover cropping and we spend that your soil was more had more poor the better porch structure after using cover crops so when we would water is like the water would be able to go quickly through the experimental device that we were using to measure the infiltration but we weren't able to measure salts as well it's it's crazy because we were working in 200 foot high tunnel where there were 33 there was 8. Thank you there were 8 treatments per season and then we were doing 4 replications so we had you know 32 bags that were sitting sending to soil soil testing every week and we just had to reduce what we were testing for because it was quite a couple of $1000.00 many $1000.00 for us to do this study so. Yes. So we do have a picture of a firm so it is pretty much implement that you can have and here it is on your on your tractor which is perfect for like just mowing something down to yeah we did we had one for 2 will tractor for the b.c.s. if you're able to no you don't have to we had to cut it down because we were trying to keep it within a small space we weren't chart we're trying to make sure the Cowpies stayed in the Cowpies spot and didn't get into the buckwheat spot but if you're doing it like you're pulling through filling a hole tunnel with the cover crop you could just use the crimper throughout the whole thing yeah. So we set the plants in there by hand because some of the so that was a whole nother research study from one of my friends Joseph and so there was a certain amount of sweet potatoes he was using for his study. No we didn't have that we made sure that the transplants that we put in side the ones we transplanted them we made sure that they were pretty mature like ready to get into the soil and we I think also there was some side dressing that they used for adding some more nitrogen to it so the more healthier soil or the more nutrient you have in your soil is a better able to fight some of these different pathogens so we don't have much of those issues so. Yeah. That's a really good idea. That's the best specifically with nitrogen your nitrogen to get tied up so then it would be in an unusable form for the plants actually use it however you still do have some other nutrients and some other properties you're getting from the cover crops such as carbon and organic matter to help your soil so that's why when you're planning your cover crop you want to plan based on when you're going to put your cash crop So for example before you start your cover crop you might want to say Ok maybe I need to start seeding my cash crop now and have your seeds have your plants growing so that you can easily transfer plant them by time of terminating like 2 weeks after terminating your so. Old. So it really depends on the crop. Yeah the cover crop it depends on the cover crop So you're saying like you're planting your garlic when you're planting it in a. Later October. Yeah. I would say you would lose some of it and what I would do is I would look into horse doing some recovery cross where you could grow it probably later summer and terminate it like you say if you're terminating terminating it come September or like early October. Yeah so. This year next year we could talk more about that afterwards I found yet. So what happens in the soil that causes nitrogen immobilisation is simply when it comes to there's a couple of things so when it comes to your soil you have a certain amount of carbon nitrogen that your bacteria need to help to actually break down. To make these nutrients released So for example if you have a low amount of carbon to the amount of nitrogen that you have there they're going to hold on to that nitrogen until they can get the carbon to actually make it release then you also want to think about how in your soil your you have a lot of different processes that are taking place where the nitrogen will switch between different forms nitrate nitrite and the nitrate is what is actual vailable for plant growth so it's like you're trying to do a balance effect Now not everything is perfect you know it's not that if you didn't get your cash crop in a soon as the soil has the highest mountain nitrogen your cash crops are not going to grow doesn't mean that you can still get great growth you can still get some benefits you're just not going to get the most off the all the benefits you could have gotten which there still are other methods where you could use say if you want to put some compost inside dress it a little bit things like that to help out and you know still even with the amount of nitrogen that you get from cover crops sometimes you still do want to add a little bit extra little extra things because for example if you're going to be trying to grow for market you want to have a very quiet high quality products especially if you're growing for somewhere like Whole Foods or so you need a very high quality product and the having the soil that's a really healthy really helps with making sure that it reduces the amount of blemishes and different things that it's going to have sown. Mulching mower I wouldn't know what would be that if I look at them as very similar I wouldn't know what would actually be the added benefit. Oh yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeah. So yeah yeah so I wouldn't know and I think it really depends on your crops and. Did you have something else to him yeah. That's sure. Make sense to put that together perfect. What how long did it take for the weeds to come back when we planted our melons. I would data ask the person who was doing that research study because I was managing a different tunnel. But I can get back to you anybody any other questions thank you so much I think we went over time a little bit but yes if you have any other questions feel free to see me here on campus at Akron. Thank you so much this media was brought to you by Audioboo a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon please visit w w w. Dot org.


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