Digging In

Interns Take a Ridealong

Interns Take a Ridealong

By Emily Keiser on Monday, 10 June, 2019

Each time a new member joins our staff they are encouraged to do a ride along with one of our field managers. Last month, our new interns Emily and Margaret had the chance to ride along with Abigail Peterson, our Missouri, and Southern Illinois Field Manager.

“It was a great experience,” said Emily. “To see the difference a cover crop can make, first hand, was something I found very interesting. Abigail also did a great job of explaining the effects of cover crops and showing us what to look for in healthy, fertile soil.”

The trio traveled to several SHP fields in Illinois to observe the differences in management and planting. They visited a field that had been terminated for almost a month but had yet to be planted. They also checked out a field that a cover crop had been planted with a gap row in order for the farmer to be able to plant in the cash crop green without any competition. Finally, they visited a field in Jasper County, Illinois where the cover crop had just been terminated and then immediately planted.

“We looked at several fields that had cover crops and some that didn’t. With all the rain we’ve had this spring it was interesting to see how cover crops combated the erosion and helped with weed control,” Margaret said. “There was a dramatic difference between the soil that had cover crops as opposed to those that didn’t.”

While scouting fields the team was able to meet an SHP farmer, Larry Sporleder, and talk about the struggles that farmers have been facing trying to get this year's crop in the ground.  With this very wet spring farmers have been trying to decide when the fields are dry enough to plant. Also, with the lower temperatures at night, farmers have been struggling with the ground being too cold for a seed to start rooting down.

“I hope throughout the summer they learn more about the physical characteristics that cover crops can bring to farmers,” Abigail said. “It was really cool to see them dig up some soil in a field with cover crops then try to put a shovel in the ground of a field that didn’t have anything in it.”

During this wet spring, cover crops can turn into a saving grace for farmers.

“I have a farmer in Macoupin County, Illinois that has been able to get into the fields because of cover crops creating that structure beneath the soil and allowing the soil to be able to hold up the machinery without as much compaction,” Abigail shared,

Soil Health Partnership recommends a variety of cover crops dependent upon the location of the field, intended crops to be planted there, soil type and more. Find out more about what might be right in your area by contacting an SHP field manager or tune into our latest Soil Session about cover crops.