News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

January 27, 2013

‘Cover crops’ helping Valley farmers recover from drought

Many planting clover, turnips to help soil

TERRE HAUTE — Following last year’s record-setting drought, some Vigo County farmers have turned to cover crops to help trap nitrogen in the ground to benefit this year’s crops.

“We were really encouraging people to plant them this past fall after the drought because if you have a drought and have low corn yields, that means you will have more residual nitrogen in the soil. The corn crop did not really grow and use the nitrogen that was applied,” said Eileen Kladivko, professor of agronomy at Purdue University.

The residual nitrate can leach out of the soil into nearby streams, eventually getting into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. “Cover crops are a good practice regardless of the type of year,” Kladivko said.

Cover crops can include clover, radishes and even turnips. The crops not only capture nitrogen, but also help build organic soil matter, Kladivko said.

“Cover crop use has grown tremendously in Indiana and Ohio in the last three years, but it still is a relatively small percent of farmers. It still is probably less than 10 percent of the farmers statewide [in Indiana] that are using cover crops,” Kladivko said.

Five years ago, that percentage would be closer to 2 percent of Hoosier farmers using cover crops, she said. “There is tremendous interest, so there are a number of people who are seriously considering it who have not done it yet,” Kladivko said.

While turnips are not a common cover crop, their use has increased.

“A turnip does scavenge a lot of nitrogen. If people have cattle, then sometimes turnips can be good for grazing,” Kladivko said. Also the turnip has a tap root that deeply penetrates the soil, helping uncompact the soil.

This is the first year that Roger Sturgeon, who farms about 1,900 acres just north of Riley, has planted a cover crop. He planted 120 acres as a test area using a mixture that is about 82 percent clover, with 3 percent in turnips and the rest in radishes.

“The clover is actually supposed to generate nitrogen, somewhere around 75 to 100 pounds of nitrogen could be put back into the ground,” Sturgeon said.

He planted radishes and turnips not to collect nitrogen, but instead to use their root systems to break up compaction of the soil. “The previous crop in the field was wheat. Because of the drought and the ground was so hard, I was not able to put in a double crop of beans last summer,” Sturgeon said.

“I just decided since I didn’t have anything growing there, I had plenty of time to plant a cover crop. It is something new and have never done before, but it seems like cover crops are gaining in popularity and are coming back,” Sturgeon said.

“I did it mainly because of the drought as the ground was going to sit idle without the beans. The whole idea behind cover crops is the ground is actually healthier if you have something growing there,” Sturgeon said.

Cover crops that do not die in the winter or have volunteer sprouts that become active in the spring are killed off with a herbicide about 10 to 14 days before cash crops of corn or soybeans are planted.

Sturgeon describes himself as a minimal till farmer and plans to watch how the land with a cover crop performs. “If my socks are just knocked off and it is 200 bushel corn and all the rest in 160 bushel, then I will know it will have made a big difference,” he said.

This fall, Sturgeon said he plans to try a side-by-side test of land, with one area in cover crops next to land without a cover crop.

Farmer Phil Carter said the 2012 drought made it a “perfect storm” for farmers to plant cover crops.

“There has been a big push from the soil conservation services and the state Department of Agriculture encouraging farmers to plant cover crops. This year people have the time [with many fields decimated] and it makes sense to do it,” he said.

Carter has used cover crops for seven years. This year he has 55 percent of the 1,200 acres he farms, north of Lewis, sown with cover crops. He primarily uses an annual rye grass. He also uses cereal rye, similar to wheat, and oilseed radishes.

“I like radishes to break up soil compaction, but the problem is they have to be planted in late August to get the most benefit from them and most of the time our crops don’t come off until mid September, late October,” Carter said.

“The reason I use annual rye grass is it is very deep rooted and brings up nutrients up from the subsoil. Then when you till it or burn it back to plant corn or beans, it brings those nutrients up to the top and you have them for the future,” Carter said.

The primary reason Carter said he uses cover crops is to protect soil from erosion. An added benefit is it helps soil from losing nutrients. “If there is any free nitrogen in the soil, it will tie it up until next spring’s crop,” he said.

“A third reason for cover crops is soil where you grow cover crops has a better tilth to it,” Carter said. “The soil is more fluffy, loamy, easier to work with and not as compacted. It just makes your soil healthier.”

Timing is important on cover crops, Carter said. Planting has to be timely in the fall to get the plants established before a frost or freeze. And, if the plants are killed too soon in the spring, “you do not get all of the benefits. If you kill them too late, they can take moisture out of the soil,” Carter said.

Likewise, if the cover crop, such as rye grass, gets too large when killed and lays down, it can retain too much moisture during a wet period. However, it can also retain water in a dry period.

“The big push on cover crops is to have something green on the soil for more months out of the year than just the five months you have crops growing on them,” Carter said.

“Go back 50 years, the rotations people had were corn, soybeans and wheat. After the wheat, people planted clover or alfalfa so we had some kind of cover crop on the soils 80 percent of the time,” Carter said. “We have gotten away from that and are just growing corn and soybeans. Winter wheat and clover are not in our rotation any more so we don’t have the cover crops to protect the soil.

“Farmers don’t have livestock anymore to pasture on the clover. It is so much more profitable to plan corn and soybeans. The dynamics of agriculture has changed so much in the last six years and the economics determine that we grow corn and soybeans,” he said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • MET 073014 WESTMINISTER DIG.jpg Expanding independence

    Westminster Village, a Terre Haute retirement community, is investing $1.8 million to construct 12 new villa homes, officials announced Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 5 Photos

  • Decades later, dry cleaners leave blemish

    Fifty years ago, about 30 dry cleaners did business in the city of Terre Haute. City officials are now cleaning up the mess some left behind.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MARK BENNETT: Year of River sets example for state

    Terre Haute pays more attention to the Wabash River these days.

    July 30, 2014

  • Climate of less regulation, more chemical spills leaves ‘historical pollution,’ NCA director says

    Former dry cleaning sites are an environmental problem all over the state, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MET073014parks bbushee.jpg Camping turnout low for first half of summer

    Camping revenue for the past two months has dropped in Vigo County parks, a downturn park officials say is difficult to attribute to a new park policy limiting campers’ stays to 14 days in the three county parks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 073014 DESTROYED.jpg Devastating fire takes out mobile home

    A Seelyville mobile home sustained heavy damage in a fire early Wednesday morning.
    Lost Creek Township firefighters were called to the scene in the 2200 block of Tabortown Road south of U.S. 40 at about 2 a.m.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Man posts bond after fatal wreck

    An Oct. 7 trial date has been set for a Terre Haute man accused of driving while intoxicated causing death.

    July 30, 2014 3 Stories

  • Driver injured, airlifted, cited for failure to yield

    An elderly woman was injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon in Sullivan County, according to Indiana State Police.

    July 30, 2014

  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

  • MET 072814 BUS MEYERROSE.jpg Bus safety features

    New safety features on South Vermillion School Corp. buses have led to fewer disciplinary problems and fewer incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, officials say.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Humvee driver says foot caused fatal accident

    Kyle Pendergast, 22, the Terre Haute driver of a black Humvee charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing the death of a teenager, has told police he could not turn the wheel before the vehicle flipped in a field in an early Saturday morning accident.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • MET 072814 CONTAMINATED Cleaner may have contaminated water

    Groundwater and soil testing is set to begin within a week to learn whether toxic chemicals might have seeped into the wells of a small southside neighborhood and even beyond.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Housing Authority’s Warren Village nearing completion

    Construction on the newest Terre Haute Housing Authority property – Warren Village – should wrap up next month, a housing authority official said Monday.

    July 29, 2014

  • rush-hr.jpg Observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking next chief

    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure as the state’s top judge.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Multi-vehicle accident in parking lot

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after a multiple-vehicle accident late Monday morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot on Poplar Street

    July 29, 2014

  • Old National acquires Michigan bank

    Evansville-based Old National Bancorp and Grand Rapids-based Founders Financial Corp. said Monday they have finalized an agreement under which Old National will acquire Founders through a stock and cash merger.

    July 28, 2014

  • Ohio man falls to death at Cataract Falls rec area

    Indiana conservation officers are investigating the death of an Ohio man that occurred at about 4:10 p.m. Sunday at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area in Owen County.

    July 28, 2014

  • MET 072514 WWI 01MORAHN.jpg Postcards from the war front

    A native of France, Marie Decleir saw humanity at its worst as she experienced the death and destruction caused by World War I, which began 100 years ago today.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 072714 NASCAR STEIG.jpg Watching Gordon make history

    As race car drivers competed on the track on Sunday in Indianapolis, racing fans in Terre Haute gathered around television screens and watched history unfold during the “Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Inept amid partisan fury

    Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Restaurant Inspections: July 28, 2014

    July 7-11

    July 27, 2014

  • MET 072514 I-70 CONE.jpg Caution zone

    Travel the interstate at your own risk.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Broken Water Main Floods UCLA In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City Wisc. Twins Celebrate a Century of Laughter Harding Love Letters Now Open to Public Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Bull Run Comes to Middle America Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News