Is no-till planting spring cereal grain into winter-killed cover crops worth it?

Farmer: Ken Laing

Farm: Orchard Hill Farm

Region: West

Publish Date: January 7, 2020

Article Type: Research Project

Research Priorities: Cover Crops 

Spring cereals are integral to diverse rotations; however, it is often hard to get them planted early enough. One strategy to get into the field early is to no-till plant into cover crop residue, which provides soil cover in the winter and generally helps improve soil health. To investigate this approach, Ken no-till planted oats and barley into replicated plots of four different cover crops and plots that received fall tillage. 

Key Findings

  • Grain yield and relative net return were highest when no-till planted into daikon radish.
  • Weed control was best with daikon radish and the fall tillage control.
  • There was no soil erosion in the cover crop plots, and moderate rill erosion in the fall tillage plots.