Forage production, forage utilization (grazing and hay) and soil health cover crops will be the topics of discussion at a field day 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug.t 19. The conservation district will host the event on the Turpin Farm located at 522 Peacock Road, Richmond.
John Graham, Natural Resources Conservation Service soil health specialist, will discuss opportunities to increase forage production while improving soil health.
The Turpins seeded the summer soil health cover crop no-till into an existing stand of cool-season grasses in late May after cutting the fall cover crop mix for hay. Regrowth was then grazed prior to seeding. The eight-way mixture included pearl millet 1#, proso millet 2#, Sudan 4#, radish 1#, soybean 15#, cowpea 20#, sunflower 1# and corn 1# per acre.
The diverse cover crop not only improves soil health, which is the capacity of soil to function, but also provides additional summer grazing and potential weight gain for profit. The soil health cover crops produce larger amounts of biomass. As organisms decompose, nutrients are made available to plants and other soil organisms, such as earthworms. Activity and abundance of earthworms is a measure of healthiness of the soil.
The Turpins cut the fall 2013 seeded soil health cover crop for hay in the spring of 2014. The four-way mix included cereal rye 35#, crimson clover 10#, Austrian winter pea 35# and daikon radish 2# per acre. The mixture had been no-till seeded into cool season grasses following grazing.
Crimson clover and Austrian winter pea are nitrogen producing legumes and daikon radishes produce biomass and penetrate the soil for improved water filtration. Samples from the hay have been tested by the University of Kentucky.
I will discuss the feed value of the four way soil health cover crop. Billy Glen and Scott Turpin will be available to discuss management of seeding, grazing and hay harvesting of both the fall and summer soil health cover crop mixtures.
A meal will be provided by the Conservation District. For reservations, call the Conservation District at 624-1981, Ext. 3, by Aug. 15 so we will have enough food.
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