CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — If you are terminating a cover crop this spring or planting one next fall, Jim Isermann with the Sustainable Ag Partnership offered some best practice suggestions to farmers who recently gathered at Fairbury.

“They definitely want to make sure they are educated on how to manage their cover crops,” Isermann said. “Some of the big things we see growers do that can result in some negative consequences, number one when we have a cereal rye cover crop ahead of corn, and not understanding how to manage that properly. So the first thing, if someone is just starting out with cover crops, we’d like them to take their time, concentrate on a cover crop ahead of soybeans, and avoid using those cereal cover crops, such as cereal rye ahead of corn until they’ve got their feet wet and understand the management implications that’s needed.”

What about planting? Anything to avoid when they are planting cover crops?

“They really need to make sure their field conditions are proper, their field is dried out,” Isermann said. “Often when we are in a no-till cover crop system we might need to wait a bit longer for the field to dry out. They need to make sure their planter is adjusted properly. Again, if it’s a corn system they need to be adjusting their nitrogen needs, because often times on the planter, but even in a soybean system, making sure they know what they want out of their row cleaners, their disc openers, and making sure they are going in with the right attitude of trying to understand that system.”

What about termination?

“Termination, don’t be afraid to terminate early,” Isermann said. “There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of cover crops, and that kind of inspires a lot of people to get a larger biomass cover crop out their and there can certainly be a lot of benefits in that, but if you are just starting out, don’t be afraid to get out there and get it terminated early and make sure we can avoid any issues with wet soils, until you understand the management system.”

We appreciate Jim Isermann and his advice, and there is certainly a lot of education out there, so make sure if you are heading into cover crops sometime they year that you know what you’re doing. That’s our report from the farm, I’m Stu Ellis for WCIA-3, your local news leader.