Eastover, South Carolina
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District
I have worked with Richland SWCD for the past 2 years on a Conservation Innovation Grant Study on cover crops.
Soil Health Practices:
I am a corn and soybean row crop farmer. I plant no-till and use multi-species cover crops on my operation. I have used covers for the past four years to build organic matter, reduce commercial fertilizer and pesticide, and promote soil organisms. I first started using legume covers as a source of nitrogen and to build organic matter.
The majority of farmers in South Carolina subsoil strip-till and plant at the same time. My plan was to roll my cover crop, subsoil and plant at the same time, but this became a problem. The lush cover crop of clover, vetch and radishes that I was planting corn into was so slick that I couldn’t get enough traction to pull the subsoiler. I managed to get one pass across the field. Without any other options, I removed the subsoiler and planted no-till into the green cover. At the end of the year, the yield was the same where I subsoiled verses no-till. What I thought was going to be a problem turned out to be one of the best learning lessons. I have been no-till for three years now.
Most full season soybean farmers in South Carolina plant a group 7 bean. This puts harvest in November and delays cover crop planting into shorter, cooler days. Cover crop biomass isn’t as heavy in later planting dates. I switched to a group 5 soybean that is harvested the first of October. This gives me thirty more days of growth, ensuring a heavy cover crop.