Planting cool-season cover crops that match your ranch’s management goals and environmental conditions can improve your land’s diversity, soil health and ecological processes long term.
Noble Rancher Articles
Converting from conventional cropping to regenerative practices can be a challenge in the early years. Noble Research Institute ranch manager Kevin Pierce shares what he’s learning as he plants cover crops to build soil health on Red River Ranch.
Your context and goals will dictate the warm-season mix you need on your regenerative ranch.
Cover crops have gained a great deal of popularity in the past several years. Producers often contact us wanting information about which cover crop they should grow. Before we can give a good answer, we must first ask and answer a multitude of other questions.
We started our cover crop journey about four years ago and would like to share some of the benefits we have witnessed firsthand.
Have you ever wondered why it is recommended to purchase certified seed? Really, what is the purpose of that blue tag that says “certified seed” sewn on the seed bag you are wanting to buy? Why is that label so important? As a farmer, rancher or frequent buyer of seed, these are all great questions to ask. So, let us get down to business and try to address these questions. After all, seeds are a basic and critical input for many agricultural enterprises to enhance their operational productivity.
There are many variables to consider when deciding if cover crops fit into a cropping system. For the purposes of this article, a cover crop is defined as a crop grown between cash crops with the primary intent of noncash benefits, such as soil heath, erosion control, weed suppression, etc. Following are three topic areas relative to cover crops that are discussed frequently among Noble Research Institute consultants.
Cover crops span a diverse array of plant types and species, and they can be used at various times of the year in the Southern Great Plains. For the sake of simplicity, we will group them by warm-season and cool-season. Typically, cool-season cover crops are planted in the fall on crop fields or overseeded into dormant warm-season perennial grass pastures. Warm-season cover crops are usually planted in the spring on crop fields. In Oklahoma and Texas, they can also be planted in late summer for fall growth prior to a killing frost. We have experimented with growing cover crops in various environments in the Ardmore, Oklahoma, area over the past several years. Following are some of our observations.