2021 Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference - Rebecca Clay
Optimizing your cover crop ROI -
Rebecca Clay, Strategic Initiatives Agronomy Coordinator at Practical Farmers of Iowa
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- [00:00:22.760]I knew Rebecca as Becca
about four years ago.
- [00:00:26.300]she spent some time in one of our
summer internship programs and,
- [00:00:30.820]and why I mentioned that is that was
also a, we had a component to that,
- [00:00:35.630]that, where we let the,
- [00:00:37.790]undergrad students shadow
some of the educators.
- [00:00:41.510]and I forget exactly the, the two
that Becca spent some time with.
- [00:00:44.960]I think one of them was Gary Lesoing
who we'd indicated, had,
- [00:00:49.790]also participated on the planning
committee. And so hopefully Becca,
- [00:00:53.790]what I'm looking for today is that,
- [00:00:57.650]the University of Nebraska
and in particular,
- [00:01:00.260]Nebraska extension had an impact
on your career. So with that,
- [00:01:05.210]Becca, go ahead and,
- [00:01:06.980]we'll get you start to sharing your
screen titled Becca's talk today is
- [00:01:10.910]optimizing your cover crop ROI.
- [00:01:14.000]Good afternoon. And again,
thanks to Gary, Melissa,
- [00:01:16.220]Darren and Michael for inviting me
today. And, thanks again, Darren,
- [00:01:20.600]for the introduction.
- [00:01:22.580]my time at UNL was awesome and I did get
to shadow Gary, as you mentioned,
- [00:01:28.040]and anyway, I'll just go ahead and
start. so my name's Rebecca clan,
- [00:01:32.240]I'm the strategic
initiatives at ground.
- [00:01:35.030]so if you're not already familiar
with practical farmers of Iowa,
- [00:01:37.610]I'd just like to, provide a
little bit of background on PFI.
- [00:01:41.600]Practical farmers of Iowa as an
organization was founded by farmers in
- [00:01:46.390]the 1980s as an organization for farmers.
- [00:01:50.360]And as some of you might recall,
- [00:01:51.920]the 1980s was a bit of a turbulent
time for farmers with low commodity
- [00:01:56.810]prices and rising costs of production.
- [00:01:59.630]And so the founders started PFI
with two main goals in mind, one,
- [00:02:04.850]they were hoping to provide farmers
access to information and experience
- [00:02:09.590]about environmentally sound, low cost
and profitable farming techniques.
- [00:02:14.900]And two,
- [00:02:16.160]they were hoping to encourage and
guide research at producing more upset
- [00:02:20.570]information. Okay. It looks
like you can share my,
- [00:02:25.580]my video now, so hopefully
you can see me. Okay.
- [00:02:29.570]And now over 35 years
later, we're now in 2021,
- [00:02:33.590]practical farmers has
expanded quite a bit,
- [00:02:35.570]but some things have stayed the same.
- [00:02:37.700]we are still conducting farmer
led research to determine
what practices are the
- [00:02:41.870]most environmentally sound, still
low cost and also still profitable.
- [00:02:47.360]In fact,
- [00:02:47.810]we're still studying some of the very
same topics that Dick Thompson was
- [00:02:51.170]studying in the 1980s.
- [00:02:53.120]Dick Thompson was one of our founders
and this topic is cover crops.
- [00:02:57.800]So what I'm sharing here is a clipping
from a magazine from 1984,
- [00:03:02.710]that shows that the Thompsons were
even researching cover crops and weed
- [00:03:06.250]suppression techniques at that time.
- [00:03:12.720]So here's a, just kind of a highlight
here. in addition to rotations,
- [00:03:16.440]the Thompson's non-chemical
- [00:03:19.200]arsenal includes a finely tuned program
of Ridge tillage, rotary, hoeing,
- [00:03:23.430]and cultivation still under study our
soybean varieties that quickly produce
- [00:03:27.460]thick canopies to shade out weeds in
cover crops and even weeds that make their
- [00:03:31.080]own natural herbicides. So I'm happy to
get to continue on the legacy of,
- [00:03:35.670]working on cover crops, but
let's go ahead and move to the,
- [00:03:39.990]kind of the meat and potatoes
of this presentation,
- [00:03:42.570]which is optimizing your cover crop
ROI. so since you're attending this,
- [00:03:47.310]you probably are very well familiar with
the myriad of benefits of cover crops
- [00:03:51.930]too. so conservation
water quality and much more,
- [00:03:57.090]but despite these huge benefits cover
crops are still costing people money.
- [00:04:02.700]And so today I'm going to be sharing
some thoughts and findings on two main
- [00:04:06.570]topics. One is,
- [00:04:08.790]how we can optimize cover crop
seed in the application costs.
- [00:04:12.570]And two is how can you use cover
crops to control weeds and limit our
- [00:04:17.220]herbicide expenses? And
as Darren mentioned, I'm,
- [00:04:20.830]I'm presenting alongside Chad bell
who is actually not from Iowa though.
- [00:04:25.110]He is a practical farmers of Iowa
member he's from Illinois.
- [00:04:28.950]but the idea with me presenting alongside
Chad is that I'm going to be providing
- [00:04:32.790]kind of a bird's eye perspective
on some of these topics.
- [00:04:36.210]And then Chad's going to bring
us back down to earth,
- [00:04:38.940]with actual experiences
on how he's making,
- [00:04:42.240]cover crops pay on his own
farm, with, actual,
- [00:04:47.010]examples, I guess. So it's not
all going to be data and theoretical.
- [00:04:53.430]the information that I'm presenting today
is primarily data that was collected,
- [00:04:57.840]from [inaudible] various,
cover crop cost share programs.
- [00:05:02.640]in 2020 we administered,
- [00:05:04.860]seven cost-share programs
throughout the Midwest.
- [00:05:07.650]And so most of the data that I'm going
to be presenting as coming from,
- [00:05:11.310]Iowa, Illinois, and then Eastern Nebraska,
- [00:05:14.700]and the farmers who participated
in these costume programs,
- [00:05:18.600]last fall had to fill out a survey for
us where they provided their cover crop
- [00:05:22.200]seed and application expenses.
- [00:05:24.810]and so we'd had just shy of
500 responses to the survey.
- [00:05:29.700]and yeah, let's go ahead
and delve into it, how,
- [00:05:34.470]what we found from our surveys. So,
- [00:05:38.490]I had to wait through all of these,
receipts 497 of them to be exact.
- [00:05:43.050]And we found that there was,
quite a bit of a range in cover seed,
- [00:05:47.030]even application expenses,
- [00:05:49.380]with a range from as
low as about $7 an acre,
- [00:05:53.580]which was somebody who was seeding
cereal, or I had a pretty low rate,
- [00:05:57.530]$30 an acre,
- [00:05:59.540]and just combining the cover crop
seed with their fall application,
- [00:06:02.870]or excuse me, fall fertilizer application.
- [00:06:05.540]And we also had people who
were spending, you know,
- [00:06:08.540]upwards of $65 an acre
on, cover crop seed.
- [00:06:13.790]And these people were, you know,
- [00:06:15.890]using a drill using a heavier rate
and maybe using a cocktail mix.
- [00:06:19.610]But on average, we found that
people were spending around,
- [00:06:23.030]26 to $27 an acre on cover crops,
- [00:06:26.900]even application. And so what I'm
not going to do today is say that,
- [00:06:31.790]you know, we all need to be on that
$7, an acre end of the spectrum.
- [00:06:36.530]We all shouldn't be spending
any money on cover crops,
- [00:06:39.230]but rather I'd like to just kind of,
- [00:06:42.350]share some of the lessons that I learned
from waiting through this data. And,
- [00:06:47.750]just share some of the lessons that I've
learned with conversations with farmers
- [00:06:50.690]throughout the Midwest who
are using cover crops to,
- [00:06:54.470]meet their production goals, but
still not spending too much money on,
- [00:06:58.120]on those cover crops. So
this is the same information,
- [00:07:02.390]but it's just split out,
by seeding application cost.
- [00:07:05.420]Our green color over here is,
the cover crop seed costs.
- [00:07:10.430]And you can see that the average seed
cost was $13 and 21 cents an acre.
- [00:07:15.560]most people were in that
seven 50 to $15 an acre range,
- [00:07:19.580]but we did have some outliers
on either end. And then,
- [00:07:23.180]below that in the blue
graph, you can see,
- [00:07:25.670]the report and verified application costs.
- [00:07:28.310]And so nearly everyone was
spending less than $25 an acre.
- [00:07:33.110]and the average was,
- [00:07:34.610]closer to about 13 and a half
dollars an acre on application.
- [00:07:38.570]And we also have quite a few people who
were even spending less than $5 an acre
- [00:07:42.620]on cover crop application costs. So,
- [00:07:45.650]I'll be sharing some information
on that in a bit.
- [00:07:50.570]at this point I'd just
like to delve into,
- [00:07:53.600]how we can be controlling
costs on cover crop seed.
- [00:07:57.710]And it seemed like the people who were
doing their really good job of limiting
- [00:08:01.040]their cover crop seed costs were,
- [00:08:03.890]sticking to one or two of these roles.
- [00:08:07.850]typically they're using just a single
species, cereal, such as cereal rye,
- [00:08:12.890]ode or winter wheat,
and cereal rye was,
- [00:08:17.090]by far and away the most
common just because it's,
- [00:08:20.420]very winter Hardy and it's
not very expensive.
- [00:08:24.650]likewise the people who are doing a really
good job of limiting their cover crop
- [00:08:27.740]seed expenses were typically
- [00:08:30.980]really fancy cocktail mixes.
- [00:08:34.010]the people that were kind of falling on
the upper end of the spectrum here,
- [00:08:38.120]were often using, cover crop
cocktail mixes of, you know,
- [00:08:41.910]12 plus species. And,
while I love diversity,
- [00:08:45.770]unless we have very specific
intentions for each of those species,
- [00:08:48.980]it typically doesn't justify the
cost of that cocktail mix.
- [00:08:53.780]and now, so if we do have a reason to
want to see, multi-species like,
- [00:08:58.680]maybe we're going to be doing some
grazing, you know, of course,
- [00:09:02.880]seed Maldives, multiple species, just
be intentional about which ones,
- [00:09:07.290]you're seeding. And,
you can also, um.
- [00:09:13.320]just like.
- [00:09:14.040]Stick to a couple as opposed to 12.
- [00:09:16.930]Getting your bed chat here. Oops. Okay.
- [00:09:21.350]another lesson that we learned from
people was that you can opt for a smaller,
- [00:09:24.890]seated species. So oilseed radish is,
- [00:09:27.180]are really popular because
of the long TAC group.
- [00:09:29.870]We think that they do a good job
of breaking up compaction.
- [00:09:32.990]but oil seed radish is compared to
other brassica, such as rapeseed.
- [00:09:37.640]turnips mustard typically
have a larger seed size.
- [00:09:42.170]And so if we can opt for those smaller
seated species, which, also have a,
- [00:09:47.070]long tap group and they're going to
do a good job of breaking up compaction,
- [00:09:51.530]we can get the same
benefit, but, less money.
- [00:09:55.580]So we can see fewer pounds per
acre, while keeping our costs.
- [00:10:02.810]This year.
- [00:10:03.350]I think we saw more people that were
growing their own cover crop seed.
- [00:10:07.580]and this is exciting because it means
that they're capturing that extra profit
- [00:10:11.240]margin on the seed money. Isn't going
to the seed dealer or the seed producer.
- [00:10:15.950]And it also opens up opportunities
for summer seeded cover crops,
- [00:10:20.090]such as covert,
- [00:10:21.430]which can help us to fix nitrogen and
just get a little bit more diversity in
- [00:10:25.040]our rotation. And then
just like a casual,
- [00:10:29.320]observation that I also made was that,
- [00:10:32.330]seed purchase purchased earlier
in the season and maybe,
- [00:10:36.920]July, August,
- [00:10:37.940]September was typically a little bit
cheaper than seed that was purchased in
- [00:10:41.510]October. And I speculate
that this is because,
- [00:10:45.860]in October demand for cover
crop seed is really high.
- [00:10:48.350]And so people are able to charge a
little bit more. And so, you know,
- [00:10:51.710]if you're able to purchase it earlier,
- [00:10:53.000]you might be able to save
a dollar or so a bushel on,
- [00:10:56.760]on a cereal rye or.
- [00:10:58.130]Or other species like that.
- [00:11:02.750]while controlling costs is good,
- [00:11:04.580]sometimes it does help to pay a little
bit extra depending on what your goals
- [00:11:07.940]for your cover crop are.
- [00:11:09.830]And so I'll go through a couple of
reasons why it might make sense to pay a
- [00:11:13.280]little bit more on your cover
crop seed. one reason is that,
- [00:11:18.200]if we're using cover crops as
a weed suppressed weed suppressing
- [00:11:22.850]technique, it might be
beneficial to heat at a higher rate.
- [00:11:26.690]Most people who are using cover
crops for us, your eye for,
- [00:11:31.190]so it'll help civil conservation are
typically seeding at closer to a doll or
- [00:11:35.900]excuse me, a bushel, an
acre seeding rate.
- [00:11:39.140]but if we're going to be using
cover crops for weed control,
- [00:11:42.200]or if we're going to be a
roller crimping, it,
- [00:11:44.510]we would need to see it at a higher rate,
- [00:11:45.890]maybe closer to one and a half
bushel to three bushel, an acre.
- [00:11:51.410]Likewise, if we are going to
graze our crop, or,
- [00:11:55.630]use it as a forage,
- [00:11:56.620]we probably want to up our seeding rate
a little bit to get a little bit more
- [00:12:00.670]biomass. so up our seeding rate,
- [00:12:03.820]and then we can also see multiple species,
- [00:12:05.740]especially if we're hoping to do
fall grazing and spring grazing.
- [00:12:09.640]if we're going to do fall grazing,
- [00:12:10.750]we want to make sure that we have some
quick to establish a species such as oats
- [00:12:15.190]or a brassica,
- [00:12:17.230]that is going to provide a lot
of forage out there in the fall.
- [00:12:20.380]And if we want to do spring grazing,
- [00:12:21.730]we want to make sure that we have
something that's going to overwinter.
- [00:12:24.130]So ideally, maybe you can mix both
of those so that you have,
- [00:12:27.460]opportunities for both falling in.
- [00:12:29.160]Spring grazing. Another thing.
- [00:12:32.190]That I've I learned from,
folks in talking to them,
- [00:12:35.320]especially cattle people, is that,
- [00:12:38.280]you might want to spend a little bit more
on certain species if you're going to
- [00:12:41.340]be using that cover crop is feed. So,
- [00:12:44.970]true to Kaylee is a little bit more
expensive seed than cereal arrived,
- [00:12:48.570]but it does have a higher protein content
than dry and makes for a really nice,
- [00:12:53.550]fi feed stock, I guess. And so,
- [00:12:58.290]it might be worth it to spend a little
bit more on trade Akili as opposed to
- [00:13:02.020]arrive. You're going to be,
harvesting it for signage.
- [00:13:06.720]Another way to optimize,
- [00:13:09.000]how we're spending money on cover
crops is to seed our legumes early.
- [00:13:12.510]If you're using legumes,
- [00:13:15.150]sometimes I just have to
take a big breath and,
- [00:13:19.650]I sometimes I just want to bang
my head against the wall. When I see,
- [00:13:24.600]that legumes are being seated
in, October or November,
- [00:13:29.610]for legumes to, fix nitrogen,
- [00:13:32.940]we need them to get closer to flowering.
- [00:13:34.770]And so if we're seeding them
in October or November,
- [00:13:38.400]we're typically not going to get very
much benefit, like seed typically does,
- [00:13:42.540]tend to be a little bit
more expensive. And so,
- [00:13:45.930]if we're going to see legumes and we
need to get them out there early so that
- [00:13:48.750]they can, get closer to flowering
and hopefully fix more nitrogen for us,
- [00:13:53.610]and then a final way that we
can, that we should be,
- [00:13:56.760]optimizing how we're spending money on
cover crop seed is making sure that we're
- [00:14:00.390]not, importing any noxious
or non-local weed seeds.
- [00:14:07.260]I've heard horror stories of people
who maybe found a cheap cereal,
- [00:14:11.310]or I see it online, and thought,
okay, $5 a bushel. That's great.
- [00:14:16.050]But, they didn't ask for the
seed label and they ended up getting,
- [00:14:20.730]some weeds on their farm via the sea
that they hadn't seen before. And so,
- [00:14:25.170]we should always,
- [00:14:25.980]always always ask for a seed label from
whoever we're purchasing our cover crop
- [00:14:30.210]seed from.
- [00:14:34.480]I'm going to pivot away from seeds
to talk a little bit more about,
- [00:14:38.550]how we can be, controlling costs
on cover crop seed application.
- [00:14:43.680]And so our histogram here is,
showing that quite a few people,
- [00:14:48.090]62 actually,
- [00:14:49.710]who are spending less than $5
an acre on a cover crop seed
- [00:14:54.110]application, and those people who
are spending less than $5 an acre,
- [00:14:58.850]we're able to do that because they
were a coupling application of that cover
- [00:15:02.990]crop seed with other passes. The
most common, that I saw was,
- [00:15:07.480]mixing cover crop seed into
fall fertilizer, mixes.
- [00:15:12.260]And so people were just seating kind of
later in the fall with a fall fertilizer
- [00:15:15.920]mixes. Some co-ops didn't
charge anything for this.
- [00:15:18.980]I saw a cost as low as $2 an acre,
- [00:15:22.880]and probably the more common
cost for this was,
- [00:15:25.880]closer to $4 an acre to mix your
cover crop seed into that fall
- [00:15:30.410]fertilizer mix to seed that way.
- [00:15:34.250]I saw a couple of other people where,
- [00:15:36.770]if they were already out there
doing some sort of tillage,
- [00:15:38.930]especially vertical tillage,
in the fall, some people were,
- [00:15:43.400]mounting in air seeders, such as
such as a Gandy box onto that,
- [00:15:47.860]vertical tillage implement and
we're seeding cover crops that way.
- [00:15:51.530]So just one less pass
across the field.
- [00:15:54.620]of course you have to purchase
an air seeder, but,
- [00:15:58.010]it might be worth it in the long run.
If you, if you pencil it out,
- [00:16:02.930]with these methods, you might be sitting
a little bit later than optimal. So,
- [00:16:07.460]if you have an old fertilizer buggy,
you might be able to actually have,
- [00:16:11.390]I talked to people who,
- [00:16:12.920]will chase the combine with
an old fertilizer buggy
with their cover crop seed.
- [00:16:16.670]So they're still kind of
keeping the costs low,
- [00:16:20.750]but getting a little bit more
fall growth by seeding it.
- [00:16:27.160]Okay. and then for,
cover crop seed to application,
- [00:16:31.600]how we can make sure that if
we're spending a little bit more,
- [00:16:34.450]here's some things that
we can think about.
- [00:16:36.850]some people are making sure to
hire the seeding done just for
- [00:16:41.170]convenience. So, seating in
ourselves might cost a little bit less.
- [00:16:44.830]We don't necessarily have
to pay ourselves, but,
- [00:16:47.470]a lot of times come harvest
we're in a time crunch.
- [00:16:49.780]And so we might not end up getting the
cover crop seat in, or we might ended up,
- [00:16:53.950]ended up getting the cover crop seed
and know a little, a little bit late.
- [00:16:57.400]And so hiring it done by airplane
or highboy means that it's one less
- [00:17:02.380]thing that we have to worry about in
the fall when we're already super busy
- [00:17:06.040]with, with harvest.
- [00:17:07.420]And we could also get a little bit of
additional fall growth if we seed it
- [00:17:10.380]early. And,
- [00:17:13.360]the most expensive costs for typically
drilling and for some people,
- [00:17:16.930]if we want a really precise application
and a consistent stand for maybe
- [00:17:21.700]soil conservation or weed suppression,
- [00:17:24.820]this higher cost might be
justified. but you know,
- [00:17:28.330]I encourage us to make sure that
we're not getting swindled.
- [00:17:31.930]there were a few people who were
spending over $30 an acre on,
- [00:17:36.160]getting their cover crop seed drilled.
- [00:17:37.630]And it just seemed like a little
bit too much. So, you know,
- [00:17:41.110]aim to not spend over 25,
- [00:17:43.840]$20 an acre on drilling expenses,
- [00:17:46.960]unless maybe they're traveling
from out of state to,
- [00:17:49.920]to drill their cover crops for you. Okay.
- [00:17:53.570]So I'm going to be done is anything
about saving application costs.
- [00:17:56.930]And now I'd just like to talk about
cover crops and weeds and herbicide.
- [00:18:01.940]And in my job,
- [00:18:02.900]I get to do a lot of phone calls with
farmers who are using cover crops.
- [00:18:06.020]And I feel like one thing
that I consistently hear
over and over again is that,
- [00:18:10.520]people are seeing less weed
pressure in their cover crop fields.
- [00:18:15.530]And more specifically, people have
been reporting to me that,
- [00:18:19.370]some of those weed species that
are starting to, to develop,
- [00:18:22.970]herbicide resistance,
such as giant ragweed,
- [00:18:26.840]waterhemp mayor's tail, are also,
- [00:18:29.810]those populations are also
decreasing with cover crops.
- [00:18:32.420]And so I think cover crops are going
to be a really important tool in our
- [00:18:35.660]toolbox as we continue to see,
- [00:18:39.260]decreasing efficacy of,
of these herbicides with,
- [00:18:44.120]with some of these,
these weed species.
- [00:18:48.860]and so some research has been
done on this Andrew beige,
- [00:18:51.200]who's going to be presenting later,
- [00:18:53.030]has co-authored a couple of meta
analyses on the subject.
- [00:18:56.480]Gina Nichols from Iowa state has also,
- [00:18:59.480]published some studies and has done
a little bit of extension on this.
- [00:19:02.630]So I encourage you to check out
both of their, publications,
- [00:19:06.890]which are going to be a little bit more
for Mueller research and a bit more in
- [00:19:10.730]depth, but we wanted to know,
we wanted to quantify,
- [00:19:15.290]there are farmers were thinking
about if cover crops are,
- [00:19:20.190]suppressing weeds and changing
our weed population, right.
- [00:19:24.950]And so we asked them,
- [00:19:26.660]have you observed changes to weed pressure
since you began using cover crops?
- [00:19:30.260]And, 1% of respondents said yes,
- [00:19:33.860]that they have observed
increased weed pressure.
- [00:19:37.490]And so we're not sure
that this is necessarily
attributable to the cover crop,
- [00:19:41.180]or it could be, you know, maybe,
- [00:19:44.030]some weed seed came in
with cover crop seed.
- [00:19:47.030]it's not necessarily
attributable to the cover crop.
- [00:19:50.390]I'm about 40% of people said, no, it's
the same amount of weed pressure as,
- [00:19:55.340]they had had before,
- [00:19:57.680]before they started using cover
and about 50 per 59 and crusade and
- [00:20:02.450]people were saying, yes,
- [00:20:05.990]seeing decreased weed pressure.
- [00:20:09.440]and just because our respondents are
saying that there's seeing decreased,
- [00:20:14.180]we pressure doesn't mean that we take
this as fact that cover crops are
- [00:20:17.720]absolutely, decreasing
- [00:20:21.650]but it is, promising to me that,
- [00:20:25.310]people do think that there is some
difference out there it's going to be good
- [00:20:28.370]for our longterm field productivity.
- [00:20:32.960]however, while, you know,
- [00:20:34.880]thinking about our longterm field
productivity is important to us.
- [00:20:38.360]Our ag lenders are not necessarily
thinking about our longterm weed pressure,
- [00:20:43.280]and they want to know how the investments
that we're making this year in the
- [00:20:46.550]calendar are justifying themselves,
you know, within 12 months.
- [00:20:51.520]And so one budget factor
that can be used,
- [00:20:55.030]that can be influenced
by cover crops is,
- [00:20:58.030]changing our herbicide expenses.
- [00:21:03.720]And we know that,
- [00:21:05.070]people are out there doing this and
we've heard of people doing this
- [00:21:07.650]successfully. So for instance, Sam
Bennett of Galvin, Iowa Northwest Iowa,
- [00:21:12.570]has been using cover crops to reduce
herbicide expenses in his soybean
- [00:21:16.390]production. And he experimented with,
- [00:21:20.370]needed randomized replicated strips
of a, of a typical herbicide program,
- [00:21:24.780]and then a herbicide program
where he admitted,
- [00:21:28.560]some residual herbicide, which
had the value of about $16 an acre.
- [00:21:34.140]And, Sam didn't see any
differences in, soybean yield.
- [00:21:38.790]And so this is really promising
to us that, you know, he,
- [00:21:41.640]Sam was saving about $16 an
acre on, herbicide expenses.
- [00:21:46.560]And so we wondered are other people in
our cost share program doing this as
- [00:21:51.930]And we built this into our
survey and we found that yes,
- [00:21:55.080]some people are reducing herbicide
costs with cover crops,
- [00:21:59.220]out of the 500 or so people
that had that we had,
- [00:22:02.610]respond to 119.
- [00:22:05.490]we're able to provide data
on, their cover crops,
- [00:22:09.780]soybean fields versus their non
cover crops, soybean fields.
- [00:22:13.740]And so we asked these folks, you
know, how are you changing your herbicide,
- [00:22:17.370]the expenses for your
herbicide product and the
expenses for your herbicide
- [00:22:21.240]passes and out of those 219,
- [00:22:25.500]we saw that 14 people were reducing
their herbicide expenses,
- [00:22:30.090]and herbicide expenses in this case
means both, passes and products,
- [00:22:35.340]by an average of $13
and 57 cents an acre.
- [00:22:39.870]So that's certainly helping to recoup
some of those upfronts in application
- [00:22:44.550]costs. And then we asked
the same question,
- [00:22:47.970]for the cover crop to versus
non-covered crop corn.
- [00:22:51.420]And we had about 201 people respond
and out of those 201 people,
- [00:22:56.190]we had 20 people who said that
they were, reducing herbicide,
- [00:23:01.500]passes and product with
an average savings of $10 and
- [00:23:06.240]51 cents an acre.
- [00:23:11.160]Now, there is another
side to this coin,
- [00:23:14.700]and while we hope that most
people are able to,
- [00:23:17.550]reduce the amount of herbicide that
they're applying, with cover crops.
- [00:23:22.320]we know that, for some people,
- [00:23:24.510]especially people who are
brand new to cover crops,
- [00:23:27.210]some people are actually applying
more herbicide product or,
- [00:23:31.950]doing more passes with, with their
herbicides, with the cover crops.
- [00:23:37.080]And, so again, out of those same
numbers that I mentioned earlier,
- [00:23:41.220]we saw that 19 people were applying
more or excuse spending more
- [00:23:46.250]on, herbicide passes and products,
- [00:23:49.580]with cover crops and
likewise, for corn,
- [00:23:53.330]34 people were spending more money on,
- [00:23:57.380]herbicide passes and
products with cover crops.
- [00:24:00.740]And so there's still definitely
some coaching here to do. And,
- [00:24:04.040]if anybody has ideas on how we
can coach these people to not
- [00:24:08.960]be spending additional money on a
herbicide, I would love to hear it,
- [00:24:12.380]but I'll go ahead and share,
some of, some of our thoughts.
- [00:24:17.180]so the basic principle
is just to avoid,
- [00:24:19.820]additional herbicide costs
with cover crops,
- [00:24:23.090]by using our existing herbicide program,
- [00:24:26.210]we're just tweaking it
slightly so that,
- [00:24:29.090]it kind of accommodates
terminating that cover crop.
- [00:24:32.360]And so our cover crop termination
does not need to be an extra pass.
- [00:24:37.190]for corn, our termination can be the
same path as our pre-emerge herbicide,
- [00:24:42.110]and we just want to make
sure that we're of course,
- [00:24:44.300]getting that burned down and there, the
glyphosate, if we're using zero, right,
- [00:24:48.020]and for soybeans are covered,
- [00:24:49.780]crop termination might
be our post emerge pass,
- [00:24:52.760]or some people will even terminate the
cover crop right after they plant.
- [00:24:57.680]but for both of these,
- [00:24:58.520]we don't need to be applying
additional herbicide product or passes.
- [00:25:03.530]and just to avoid any
hiccups with, you know,
- [00:25:07.190]a zombie or dry that keeps on coming
back, we just need to keep in mind,
- [00:25:11.090]best practices, the same best
practices that we use for,
- [00:25:15.080]our herbicide programs for weed.
- [00:25:17.960]and that is that we need
to be spraying, our,
- [00:25:21.440]our herbicide on warm sunny days when,
- [00:25:24.290]nighttime temperatures
aren't too cool. And,
- [00:25:27.770]the rise actively growing and
uptaking that herbicide product.
- [00:25:31.400]otherwise we might see issues,
with the cover crop,
- [00:25:34.550]not terming terminating effectively,
- [00:25:37.010]in which case we might have to
go out and do an additional pass.
- [00:25:44.380]What about reducing herbicide
expenses with cover crops?
- [00:25:47.080]if we want to save on herbicide expenses,
what is it that we need to be doing?
- [00:25:51.190]and just by looking at the
data set and talking to farmers,
- [00:25:54.430]it seems like the easiest
way to start is,
- [00:25:57.820]with cereal rye ahead of soybeans.
- [00:26:00.520]just because soybeans tend to be a
little bit more forgiving than,
- [00:26:04.570]cover or excuse me, then corn.
- [00:26:07.390]And we have to keep in mind that our
weed suppression tactics really start in
- [00:26:11.050]the fall and we want a consistent
uniform stand. And so,
- [00:26:15.910]to get that consistent uniform stand,
- [00:26:18.220]methods like drilling or highway
application are going to be more effective
- [00:26:22.840]than, methods like broadcasting with
fall fertilizer or aerial application,
- [00:26:27.580]which tend to be more stock,
spotty. and it seems like,
- [00:26:32.380]more biomass is going to be,
more competitive with weeds.
- [00:26:37.450]a rule of thumb that I've heard is that
we want at least 2000 pounds per acre
- [00:26:42.400]of biomass out there,
to suppress weeds.
- [00:26:47.490]and so a higher seeding rate, earlier
seeding date would help with this,
- [00:26:52.740]as well as later termination.
And I think this is key.
- [00:26:56.730]most of our cereal rye growth
happens in the spring. And so,
- [00:27:01.410]the later that we can
terminate the cover crop,
- [00:27:03.930]the more growth we're going to get,
- [00:27:05.580]and the more weed
suppression we'll likely see,
- [00:27:08.310]of course this is a balancing act to make
sure that we're not impeding any sort
- [00:27:12.060]of, cash crop growth. Oops. And
then the last point here was just,
- [00:27:16.740]we might have to be willing to
spot spray a little bit,
- [00:27:20.220]more labor intensive, but, in general,
it's going to be cheaper than,
- [00:27:24.840]uniformly spring an entire field.
- [00:27:30.410]Okay. So to reiterate this, I just
wanted to put this side by side,
- [00:27:34.490]that we should be starting with,
cereal rye ahead of soy,
- [00:27:38.060]because there is higher
potential for savings.
- [00:27:41.540]We saw more people that were saving with
soy and they're saving a higher amount.
- [00:27:46.130]And then there's also a
lower risk, for,
- [00:27:50.480]additional expenses people typically,
if they were spending more money on,
- [00:27:53.890]on herbicide with cover crops, they
were spending less than corn.
- [00:27:58.180]and there are fewer people, so
it's easier to do a cereal or I.
- [00:28:02.840]Absolutely beans. Okay.
- [00:28:05.630]So wrapping up here,
- [00:28:06.710]here's some take home messages on
optimizing your cover crop ROI.
- [00:28:11.690]one, we should know exactly what we're
trying to accomplish with our cover crop,
- [00:28:16.250]whether it's soil
conservation or water quality,
- [00:28:20.270]maybe grazing maybe, weed suppression.
- [00:28:23.510]And then once we know exactly what
our cover crop goal is, we can,
- [00:28:27.350]consider how we should optimize
those seed and application,
- [00:28:31.220]to best reach that goal while
keeping costs low. And then finally,
- [00:28:35.900]we should think about how our cover
crops are influencing our broader farm
- [00:28:40.280]financials. we might be
able to cut herbicide costs.
- [00:28:45.170]we might be able to admit a tillage
pass, which is pretty expensive,
- [00:28:49.430]or we might be able to
save on winter feeding,
- [00:28:53.450]winter livestock feed with
cover crops. so in summary,
- [00:28:57.410]we need to be just really intentional
about how we can make cover crops pay on
- [00:29:01.370]our own farm. And I'm
really excited that Chad is,
- [00:29:05.210]has turned on his camera. And
he's about to share that up next,
- [00:29:10.370]before Chad starts,
they're just going to again,
- [00:29:12.290]think the organizers of the event.
- [00:29:14.690]and I also wanted to thank the people
at PFI who helped with this project.
- [00:29:19.280]Lydia English, created most
of the visuals for, for this,
- [00:29:24.110]presentation, Sarah Carlson advice,
- [00:29:26.840]the project and Chris Wilbeck
and Amy Roberts were essential
- [00:29:31.490]in tracking down cover crop,
receipts for me.
- [00:29:36.350]And so if you've got any questions or
comments or ideas beyond what I've shared,
- [00:29:40.640]I'd love to hear them either
via the Q and A or via the chat box.
- [00:29:45.520]otherwise I've shared my email here.
I'd love to, connect with you.
- [00:29:50.380]the email is
and with that,
- [00:29:55.060]thank you again. And, Chad,
I'm going to stop screen sharing.
- [00:29:59.530]I think you can probably.
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