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Yield Potential 
with AMS 
on Soybeans

"It's not too late to top dress sulfur on soybeans," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist. The standard recommendation is 80-100 lbs./ac of AMS on soybeans (fertilizer grade AMS: 21-0-0-24S).
"We've seen significant yield responses top dressing AMS on soybeans," said Carlson, adding, "It's mostly a sulfur response - but it could be an N response, too - AMS is the product of choice."
Federated's "self-propelled applicators make it easy to do," said Carlson. Contact your Federated Agronomist to schedule custom top dressing with AMS on your soybean fields.

July 12, 2016
sustainability sign
Cover Crops
(a.k.a. Sustainable Agriculture)

Experimenting with cover crops is not a fad; cover crops are one element in sustainable agriculture, one of the many practices Federated Co-ops is committed to promoting.
"In the last decade or so, we have been looking for more profitable ways to produce crops while being more environmentally sensitive," said Joel Hagen, a certified crop advisor responsible for seed education with Deer Creek Seed.
In the cycle of food production and consumption, "farmers 
wish to preserve water quality, optimize fertility, and retain soil on their farms," said Hagen, while consumers want food grown with fewer pesticides and a smaller impact on the environment and wildlife.

Sound Reasons to Use Cover Crops
  • Erosion Control. Exposed soil, like that found after small grains, vegetable crops, and corn silage are removed, is subject to rain and wind erosion. Adding cover crops shields the soil from direct rain and wind impact.  Stabilizing soil by preventing the lift of wind or water will retain soil and the nutrients it holds.
  • Nutrient recovery, production, and storage. Legume plants (as a cover crop) can produce nitrogen fertilizer and their deep roots can capture nutrients and draw them back to the soil surface.  Other non-legume plants can also capture these nutrients, store them in the roots, leaves and stems and release them where and when the new crops need them.
  • Reduce Soil compaction. For years, growers have been trying to reduce compaction with tillage, but current thinking asks, "What if compaction can be reduced with natural plant growth instead of tillage, allowing the plants to do the work instead?"
  • Increase water infiltration and storage. Breaking hard compacted layers allows more water to be stored throughout the soil profile versus being restricted to the top 4 to 8 inches. This additionally means reduced runoff - less water running into rivers and streams.
  • Improve organic matter and soil composition. Soils are composed of air, water, organic matter sand, silt, and clay. Cover crops and reduced tillage increase the organic matter in the soil, which means greater retention of water and nutrients for future crops.
  • Suppress weed growth. Specific cover crops can be geared to suppress weeds. Herbicide resistant weeds require a non-conventional system for common sense weed control. While cover crops are not perfect in these areas, simple low-cost solutions may help reduce herbicide usage.
  • Break disease and insect cycles. Two decades ago farms were more animal related with a higher usage of crop rotations that included clover, grass, and alfalfa. Increased acres of corn and soybean have reduced or eliminated this rotation, and consequently growers struggle with increased levels of disease and pests. Certain cover crops appear to break the cycle of some insects, diseases, and nematodes.
  • Provide wildlife habitat. Cover crop seeds tend to be from groups of seeds that go to flower, and those flowers provide nectar for bees and habitat for birds and other wildlife. These crops produce green, high-protein forage, not low-quality feed. 
Cover Crops = Good Farming Strategy

sustainable ag illustration
Using cover crops should be part of a planned strategy -- a deliberate
component in good crop management. With a defined strategy, the process of choosing the best cover crop seed is simplified. While "nobody can guarantee specific results," said Hagen, it is possible to effectively leverage the benefits of cover crops.
Cover crops, like any crops, are affected by the length of the growing season, rainfall, temperature, and existing or added nutrients. Hagen said, "Rely on cover crop to soak up fall applied nutrients and release in the spring."

Cover Crops Follow Grains, Corn

Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist, said, "It is important to note the value of cover crops following small grain harvest." And that means the time is near.
Cover crops integrated into a corn cropping system can also be good strategy. Carlson recommended this link from the University of Minnesota Extension Service for more information. Of course, you can always contact your Federated Agronomist for help with cover crop strategy.

Choose the Best Cover Crop Seed

Small Grain: Primarily used for weed suppression, nutrient tie up and organic matter production.
  • Oats and barley (fall death with no spring burn down needed)
  • Winter wheat and rye (green cover, spring and fall crops           
Brassicas: Primarily used as weed and nematode inhibitors; these plants put on deep penetrating roots, and store nutrients in the roots that are released in spring.
  • Radishes, mustards, forage rapeseed and forage rapeseed crosses 
Legumes: Primarily used for corn or small grain production but vetches are sometimes used for limited weed control; these crops produce nitrogen and release it in the spring, and they also add organic matter to soil.
  • Annual and perennial clovers, alfalfa, vetches, and pea
Others: Primarily used to add plant diversity and improve wildlife habitat; these plants have some weed control properties.  
  • Sunflowers, buckwheat, safflower, and other flowering plants
Contact your local Federated Agronomist for help with choosing the best cover crop seed, or feel free to direct specific seed questions to Joel Hagen (320-260-4674).
Federated Co-ops | 763-389-2582 | 502 S 2nd St. | Princeton, MN 55371-1941