Interseeding Cover Crops into Corn with Producer Rob Olson and Daughters


We farm about 2,200 acres. We have been
full no-till all of our acres for the past four years, and then we have started
adding cover crops about three years ago. So at least one third of our acres has
had some type of cover crop. Now this year we’re trying to add more and more.
So our dad is side dressing today. He is adding nitrogen into the soil, and then
also adding cover crops right into between the rows of the corn. My
daughters and I are side dressing corn. The corn is growing fast so we need to get
the nitrogen on with 28%. And then we’re also, this year is new to us, we attached
a Gandy unit on, and we’re putting the cereal rye cover crops,
rapeseed, and radish, interseeding into corn at about the V6 stage. It’s new to
us so we’re gonna see how it works. My dad has been side dressing for the
last couple years. And now we decided, after hearing from some advice from NRCS,
and plus a lot of different universities, we’ve been looking at studies, we’ve
decided to add cover crops into our corn. So right now we have the side dresser
and we did a lot of research over the winter of how we could do this, or what
we could do. We decided to put a Gandy box and connect it to our side dresser.
So what it is doing is it’s blowing the seed in between the rows of our corn
with the fertilizer that we’re putting down, and it’s able to meter out that
seed. We had some issues on our first couple fields that we were working with
it. We noticed that so we followed the chart that it gave us, but we are
noticing that we’re putting down too little of pounds. I think we were down to
18 pounds. So we had to kind of figure out, or experiment a little bit with the
chart and with changing our speed and with looking at the meters we had to
kind of figure it out. But it seems like now we’ve kind of got to that perfect spot
for about 30 pounds at this point. So we have 27 pounds of cereal rye, 2 pounds of
radish, and 1 pound of rapeseed, so a total of 30 pounds that we’re putting in
between the rows of the corn. We’ve had to really try to figure out what what
works, what doesn’t this year. We got the tubes to kind of connect through, but at
the end we’re we’ve been experimenting with the seed deflectors. Sometimes we
feel like it’s it’s deflecting almost too much so we’ve kind of decided to
push them down a little bit. And through this summer once we finish and we see
what our stand is, we’ll kind of decide how we’ll change that, how it will affect
that, because it is a little wider than we want it to be right now. It’s kind of
going a little farther than the rows than we want.
So we’ll keep watching that and we’ll see what happens when we get through. This
year we experimented with about a hundred acres of planting green with
soybeans, and the weed suppression was fantastic, and we didn’t even get much of
a growth this spring. So our hope is that the same thing will happen next year.
It’ll help suppress our weeds, and also take up some of that moisture in the
spring to help dry out our fields a little quicker and faster so we can get
into the field quicker. We’re also putting two pounds of radish in with the
mix. That’s to help kind of break up our soils, get that tap root going, move the
the water up and down and hopefully break up the compaction. And then with
rapeseed, we haven’t tried that much yet. I think my dad tried one year, but it got
shaded out. So we’re interested to see what will happen this year within the
corn. But it’s kind of the same type of thing, a little bit of a tap root. And
we’re hoping that the species together will help each other grow. I got in
no-till using the NRCS EQIP program to help us buy our first no-till drill. And that
allowed us to no-till soybeans, which also the drill could conventional seeds,
but it worked out so good, putting the seed right into in the moisture, with
beans are worked out real good. So after five – six years of that working out, we trade drills again and tried wheat.
And that seemed to be working good. We got a combination lighter soil
and heavier soil. When I first got into it, I thought I’d just do it on the
lighter soil, but it ended up working on both. And so another five – six years of
wheat, those two worked, so I figured to try corn. Well I strip-tilled for a few
years, which worked really good. But with the manpower and the labor, I decided to go
to 100% no-till, with the use of cover crops. And that’s kind of gotten me into
corn too. And this is my third year into corn and, so far so good. I’m
hoping that it is gonna work, but it still still new to me.
So right here, we had oats, and radish, and then right here where the corns at, we
did a bio strip. So in this bio strip we had radish, we had lentils, and we had
flax. No-till really helps with that infiltration and stuff, so we’ve seen a
huge improvement, especially out here in the low spots. This is this is Lucy. We’ve got Lucy and Ethel. They
like to help us on the farm every day. So I think our main goal is to keep our
topsoil in that precious soil, because as they’ve studied over the years,
we’ve lost over half of our topsoil through tillage. So we’re trying to keep that and
trying to build it back. Because I think you grow an inch in about a hundred
years. And what we’ve noticed is the snow around here especially in the winter, you
can see the erosion. So around our fields we’ve been able to keep our topsoil in
our… stealing some of the neighbor’s. Yeah, now that some of the the dirt from the
neighbors is actually coming in and staying with ours.
So we’re we’re happy when the winds, because the winds can really rip through this
area, especially when you’ve got flat and hilly areas. So we’re happy to keep the
soil on our ground. I really think that no-till and cover crops make a lot of
sense. You don’t always see the dollar amount, but you can just see it when you
go out in our fields. I’ve noticed with the last couple years working with my
dad, being able to see the difference in our soil. It’s blacker. We have a lot more
worms. I would say the first couple years were tough. There was a lot of different
things we had to try. There’s a lot of obstacles we kind of had to come through.
But now we’re getting to the point we’re really starting to see the difference in
our soils. And we’re starting to look at lowering our fertilizing rates. We’re
starting to notice, obviously being able to do less trips over the field. Also
it’s less fuel, less compaction, less labor. We’re not having to be out
there as much. We notice at the end of the year, especially since fall kind of
got late, that a lot of our neighbors were still in the field, having to keep
working while we were able to get in the office and start planning for next year,
and get cleaned up, and get everything going before the snow came. So we really
like at that aspect. We’ve noticed a lot, with our wheat, that the residue can
sometimes keep the soils from warming up in the spring, and keeping things from
germinating. So we found that when you use cover crops that help break up that
residue and that’s what we’re really hoping to do with soybeans. At some point
we’ve really noticed that the soybean mat
takes a long time to warm up, and it’s harder for us to get in the fields for
the wheat. And that’s our first crop that we like to get in the field, so
that’s kind of our big issue that we’ve seen. So we like that it breaks up the
residue. We like that there’s something living there. I was really impressed this
January I went out and I was digging and I even noticed some of the plants,
especially cereal rye and the radishes, were just a little green still. So it was
amazing to see the plants were still working and still doing what they needed
in January in February. We have manure on a couple of our fields so the rashes do
a really nice job of soaking up that nitrogen, and helps release it the next
year for us. We’re also hoping that it’ll kind of do the same thing for our other
nutrients. It’s taking stuff in and then releasing the following year for us so
rather than losing those nutrients, we’re able to keep them. Some
varieties don’t like no-till as much, so we have to be careful of that, same with
wheat. We always like to choose a wheat that has a nice strong stem, so it
doesn’t fall over when we’re combining, otherwise we have too much residue. It
makes for issues in the spring. We’ve also found that equipment is sometimes
difficult to find. For example the side dresser, we had to figure out on our own,
and find a way to make it work for us. And sometimes you can have people
thinking that it’s pretty weird what we’re doing. It’s not normal. So you
just kind of have to have a tough skin through all that. It’s getting better and better. the longer you get into it it seems like
it’s been working working better. The
first few years is a little frustrating, but it seems like the more you get into it, and then
bring cover crops into it, It just makes it better. And I like the erosion control and just the building up the organic matter, to hopefully build the soil up, you know, better
for the next generation. I was teaching two years ago, during that
time, and we had kind of sat down as a family and my dad had talked about how
he can’t run the farm himself forever. So he is kind of was wondering from
us girls if we wanted to help start up. So we kind of were going back and forth, and
I really enjoyed teaching, but I did miss home. I missed the farm. So I made the
decision to come back and so I’ve been working on the farm full-time for a year
now. It’s nerve-racking when I have a father that’s so intelligent and has
done a lot of good things. My grandpa has done a phenomenal job with our farm, and
my great-grandpas have also done a great job. So we’ve had a lot
of very successful farmers and our family. And so it can be a little, a lot
of pressure trying to fill their shoes. But they are so open-minded to try new
things I am so thankful that I’ve got a grandpa and I got a dad that is willing
to try new things. They are willing to look into soil health. We’re very
lucky for that because that’s not the norm. I’ve learned so much from him and I
hope to keep doing that. Our hope is with the next 10 years we can kind of figure
out together, he can teach us, we can kind of see where we want to go with
everything. For the while I felt like it was just always him teaching us but I
finally feel like we’re starting to bring our own ideas and our own thoughts
into there. I’m trying to bring a little bit more technology into it. Even though
my dad already does a lot with technology we already use GPS we already
use variable rating. So it’s just kind of helping some of those things and so my
sister and I are just trying to find ways that we can help better the company
and our farming practices. I started back in
high school about six years ago working the summers and now full-time probably
four years throughout college and so now I’m started officially full-time this
summer. They bring another talent to the farm that I really need. And the technology and the computer side of the game. And they bring excitement, and a younger energy that is nice to see. We have just started using a drone. We
are using it just to kind of scout our fields to see what weeds. We also like to
see if we have any any nutrient deficiencies. We can fly it and kind of
see through that. We’ve been able to use it to video some of our equipment, so
we’re able to see how it’s working in the field, what it looks like, are there
any adjustments that we should make? And then we’ll also use it kind of in the
fall to see when is harvest gonna be coming, what do we need to do. My sister
and my dad do a lot of the spraying. So they definitely use it to see what kind
of diseases, what kind of insects, are there any weed things that they need to
take care of too. I enjoyed working with family. I worked my my grandfather and
my dad through the years. And bringing my kids and my daughters into the
operation is really fun. And it’s been a joy and and their interest in
conservation and cover crops and It’s a joy to me because both my dad and I have had an interest in that also.

9 Replies to “Interseeding Cover Crops into Corn with Producer Rob Olson and Daughters”

  1. the covers will be a great way to venture towards organic benefits. roll the rye for no till organic beans and use chemical if you have to for clean up of rag weed.
    other covers make a great pre emerge for corn before planting.

  2. Great video..,👍👍👍
    Fantastic to see these Guy's moving the farming practices in to cover cropping. Here in Australia we also are aware of the need to protect our valuable top soils. Here we inter plant legumes into our sorghum and maize. After harvesting the primary cash crop, we then can either run cattle on the field or we can bail the fields….This system works well for us and can build up the organics and nitrogen, which in turn reduces fertilizer costs..
    Keep on farming..🌾🌱💚🇦🇺🇺🇸

  3. Awesome video, very informative, well stated, crisp clear voices easy to understand and comprehend. Keep posting please

  4. All i want to know is how is that massive tractor driving and turning in the field not being a concern damaging the plants

  5. Does the rye you interseed in the corn, make it through the winter, and regrow in the spring, or is it grown to much and gets winter killed?

  6. Great to see and hear that farmers are not so reliant on chemicals. Very interesting to see no tillage allows crops to actually grow out of that soil?

  7. Someone should look up what the Native Americans grow with Corn. I remember it being a squash. I don't remember which ones. I bet that too would change throughout the field. Say Water melon when in flood areas, and pumpkin in another… Also you should see if you can make more swells. Maybe create a run off system.
    Another idea I have, is to make your own nitrates, and see if they like some mushrooms.

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