Ground design

Cover Crop Nutrients Keep Money In Pockets No Till

Rick Clark wants growers to spend less on synthetic inputs.

He also wants to eliminate herbicides, open the window for planting, and more. It all starts with eliminating tillage, says Clark.

“The tillage has to stop,” he says. “Tillage is so damaging to the soil profile. We work hard to build soil health to grow the microbial community. When you bring tillage equipment through this microbial community, you destroy this community and it can no longer function at peak performance.

“We need the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which are the backbone of network communications, and we need the network to work because there will (not) be new transactions without these fungi.”

No-till Indiana has moved away from manufactured nutrients. Instead, it grows its own nitrogen in the form of cover crops. At the 2022 National No-Till Conference, he outlined his input replacement strategy and discussed his broader ideas on soil management.

His first step was to introduce cold hardy peas, which expand the growing season window into cooler months at either end.

COVER CULTURE VALUE. This graph, from Rick Clark’s 2022 National No-Till Conference presentation, shows dollar values ​​recouped from using grain rye as a source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Cereal Rye

Cover crops, done right, can provide abundant nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), and Clark has the numbers to back it up.

To find out how much of each cover crop is providing on your farm, he recommends measuring them with a…