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Cover Crop and Interseeding Trials
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2011 Priorities - Tillage Radish and Hairy Vetch

Objectives: (1) Measure the performance of fall planted Tillage Radish (Raphanus sativus) and Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa) cover crops across the state of New Hampshire, and (2) Establish a network of farms across the state to participate in ongoing cover crop trials.

Rationale:Tillage radish is used to alleviate soil compaction and will frost kill.  Hairy vetch is used to produce nitrogen and increase organic matter and will overwinter through zone 4 and possibly into zone 3 (with snow cover).  Participants will collect frost kill and root length data for tillage radish, and date of first flower and total biomass for hairy vetch (winter hardiness can be inferred from biomass data).  Data will be used to help refine planting dates and demonstrate overall performance of the two cover crops.

Goal:Recruit a minimum of 3 producers/county (no maximum number).  Receive a commitment from producers by July 11, 2011.

-Producers need to have a minimum of a ¼ acre of available cropland to participate and should be willing to establish cover crops between August 7-13th AND August 21-27th.  Target planting dates are August 7th and August 21st.

-The ¼ acre will need to be subdivided into four 1000 sq. ft. plots (e.g. 10 x 100 or 20 x 50)

-Seed will be provided to participants by August 1, 2011.

-Each species will need to be planted on each establishment date.  For example, on August 7th plant tillage radish in 1 plot, and hairy vetch in the 2nd plot.  Then on August 21st, plant tillage radish in the 3rd plot and hairy vetch in the 4th plot.

-Participants agree to keep growing the vetch until it flowers (late May to mid June)

-Seed will be non-chemically treated, non-GMO, and allowed for use in organic systems.  Tillage radish seed will be from Cedar Meadow Farm . Vetch seed will be inoculated with OMRI-listed vetch incoluant (N-Dure Rhizobium leguminosarum from INTX Microbials, LLC) and should be kept cool prior to planting.

Tillage Radish Instructions:

-Planting depth: 0.25-0.50 inches, Planting rate: 20 lbs/acre (0.55 lbs per 1000 sq. ft.)
-Establish using no-till drill, conventional drill in prepared seedbed, broadcast, or 30 inch rows with planet junior/earthway or similar walk behind planter, or other suitable planter.
-Seeds should be covered lightly with soil; do not plant too deep (discing  or rototilling in the seed is not recommended).  If seed is broadcast, plant into a firm seedbed and press seed into soil with cultipacker or roller if you have one.
-Record each planting date and method used to establish cover crop
-Record date in the fall when the crop frost kills (majority of leaves turn brown/yellow). This may differ depending on planting date.
-Optional (but desirable): Take digital photos of each plot at frost kill.
-After the radish is dead, but before the ground freezes, dig up 2 radishes at 5 locations in each plot.  Walk an “W” pattern through each plot to ensure you get a representative sample.  This is similar to the sampling for the Cornell Soil Health test (if you have done that test before).  At the first point, dig up 2 radishes and measure the length in inches.  Record both values.  Repeat this 4 more times until you have completed the “W” pattern. In total you will measure the length of 10 radishes per plot.
--Optional (but desirable): Take digital photos a few radishes next to a tape measure/yardstick.

Hairy Vetch Instructions:
-Planting depth: 0.5 to 1.5 inches, Planting rate: 40 lbs/acre (1.1 lbs per 1000 sq. ft.)
-Establish using no-till drill, conventional drill in prepared seedbed, or broadcast.
-If broadcasting, ensure that seed is covered either buy using a light disc, cultivator, harrow, cultipacker or rake.
- Vetch will not establish well if spread on soil with a hard, compacted surface or if there is a lot of residue from the previous crop.
-Record each planting date and method used to establish cover crop
-Record date in spring when your first see an open flower at each plot (flowering time may differ)
-Optional (but desirable): Take digital photos of each plot at flowering time.
-Collect biomass in spring from the center of the plot using pvc square that was provided.  Choose an area to sample that is representative of the entire plot.
-Cut all biomass down to ¼ inch from soil.  Weigh the fresh biomass of each plot and record (if you have a scale).
-Finally either collect and the dry weight yourself, or else put the biomass into paper bags and give to conservation district manager.
-If collecting dry weight yourself, dry the plants out in the sun for at least 3 days (be sure they do not blow away), or use an oven at about 140°F for 24 to 48 hours until they are “crunchy dry”.  Be sure to “tare” the scale and don’t include the weight of the bag or weighing receptacle.

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