When corn silage is harvested, the entire plant is removed, leaving the soil exposed throughout the winter. Many farmers have started planting cover crops following corn harvest because of increased soil health and fertility. The cover crop protects the soil from erosion and adds organic matter, it also scavenges excess soil nitrogen (N), releasing it again after being terminated in the spring. This keeps the nitrogen from potentially being lost through leaching and brings farmers financial benefits as less nitrogen loss means less fertilizer is needed in the spring. Farmers have asked about best methods for growing cover crops to increase benefits to soil health while still protecting corn silage yield and quality. In our region the growing season is short and common adverse fall weather can delay planting. It is important to understand the proper planting dates to maximize the cover crop benefits to the farmer and the environment. This study was designed to see what planting dates give the best cover crop performance into the spring.


Vermont, University of Vermont

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