Happy Spring! Officially I can say it was a pretty darn nice winter. But if you are a hundred miles west, not so much. At least the snow diminished the last month or so for the western and northern part of North Dakota. We did have a heavy layer of ice from the Christmas storm and it is too early to see if it hurt the alfalfa or winter rye. I have both planted at Forman. I see the current 4-inch soil temperature at the Brampton Ndawn site is 32 degrees. Warmer weather is forecast.
We had a CCSP board meeting at Oakes last week. We discussed our plans for the new CCSP site. This site will deal much with livestock and grazing cover crops. We talked about some new technology such as Tumble Wheels, and passive weighing systems. The Tumble Wheels are available, the passive weighing system apparently is not, so we have a development project. I don’t think it will do much good to work with the grazing systems unless we have a way to measure what we are getting in gains on the cattle. The land we are working with tends to be on the wet side, so it is begging for cover crops. Next year’s crop will probably be corn. We need a system that uses a lot of soil moisture, and when we get to a cash crop like corn or beans, we will look at interplanting, flying on, or whatever method we can devise to have something growing in the spring. We all know in the long term, cover crops provide diversity and improve soil health. In the short term, the best use of covers is grazing and haying, and probably the number two best use is to use up excess moisture in the spring, and provide a base to drive on while planting soybeans. We will be planting corn into some rye dormant seeded last fall. Corn can be difficult do to some not well understood reasons. The usual suspect is allelopathy, but many suspect it is a nutrient issue. I have heard farms say to make absolutely certain the corn plant never gets starved for nitrogen, and rye will not bother. We hope to learn more as time goes on with this project.
CCSP Farm Manager