Cover crop skeptics and believers can see first-hand how nutrients from manure applications can be captured, held and recycled to the following season, during a free plot tour held Aug. 26 at Blight Farms in Albion, Mich.
"Some perceive that no-till situations don't mix with manure and cover crops, but these plots will also show how those situations can be turned into success," says Natalie Rector, Michigan State University senior Extension nutrient management educator. "The tour will be short and to the point to accommodate harvesting conflicts, but these plots are too good to miss this year."
MSU Extension researcher and associate professor in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Tim Harrigan planted the plots into a wheat stubble field using slurry seeding, which uses a combination of low disturbance tillage, hog manure and cover crop seed planted all in one pass. The plots include turnips and radishes, alone, and in combination with oats, both with and without manure, and drilled compared to slurry seeding. Harrigan's research is also supported by MSU AgBioResearch.
During the tour, Harrigan will demonstrate the slurry seeding method and discuss past research plots that have tracked nitrogen losses and the ability of the cover crop to uptake nitrogen from manure and release it the following year to a corn crop. Rector will provide how-to basics of manure and cover crops.
Practical experience from tour host Ken Blight, a hog and beef producer, will provide attendees with his success of using rye cover crops in combination with manure to decrease runoff of manure and capture both the manure liquids and nutrients for reduction in purchased nitrogen the following season. The event will conclude with a tour of the livestock and cropping farmstead at the Blight Farm and a discussion of opportunities for becoming verified by the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). The public tour will be in combination with the Michigan Soil and Water Conservation Society's annual event. MAEAP Phase I credits will be available to attendees.
Ken, Art and Bill Blight will be farmer hosts for the event. Please plan to stop by for this free plot tour, Friday, Aug. 26, 10 a.m. to noon at 24010 Division Drive, Albion, Mich. – located at the corner of Division Drive and 24 Mile Road. Directions: From the intersection of I-94 and I-69, go 6 miles south. Turn east on to F Drive South for 6 miles. Turn north on 22 Mile Road to Division. East on Division, south on 24 Mile.