UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Allowing cover crops to grow two weeks longer in the spring and planting corn and soybean crops into them before termination is a strategy that may help no-till farmers deal with wet springs, according to Penn State researchers.
The approach — known as planting green — could help no-till farmers counter a range of problems they must deal with during wet springs like the ones that have occurred this year and last year. These problems include soil erosion, nutrient losses, soils holding too much moisture and causing a delay in the planting of main crops, and main-crop damage from slugs.
"With climate change bringing the Northeast more extreme precipitation events and an increase in total precipitation, no-till farmers especially need a way of dealing with wet springs," said Heather Karsten, associate professor of crop production ecology, whose research group in the College of Agricultural Sciences conducted a three-year study of planting green. "We wanted to see if farmers could get more out of their cover crops by letting them grow longer in the spring."