Spring planting is right around the corner and for many growers that planted a cover crop last fall, it is time to kill them off with a burndown. Burndown is applied with a sprayer in the spring to terminate a cover crop.

Last fall one of our growers applied strip-tilled wheat. He chose wheat as his cover crop because the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) requires a high seeding rate for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). Wheat was also less likely to result in excessive top growth in the spring compared to rye. 

The grower was able to attach a cover crop seeder to the strip-till toolbar to seed the untilled ground between the strips. While the cover crop grows it facilitates drying between the strips in the spring where machinery traffic is present.

Cover crops also help to prevent erosion of tilled strips during the winter and early spring. They also help sequester nutrients in untilled areas of the field. The root mass also helps build soil structure and the biological activity of the soil.

Once the cover crop has been terminated, the grower will be able to go back into the field and plant corn seeds between the strips.