For farmers using cover crops, burning down those crops before planting is a common practice. One farmer, however, has had success planting into his cover crop while it is still green. Trey Hill grows corn and soybeans in Maryland. He has found that not burning down his cover crop before planting helps him plant earlier and get better yields. “We have been doing it for about 10 years and learning and adapting as we go,” he stated. “We just do a little bit more each year.” He told HAT that today he plants green on about 90% of his soybean acres, “The reason we got into planting green was not soil health but agronomics.”
Planting into a cover crop of clover or barley lets him get into his fields earlier and not have to wait for burn down. He admits that corn has been more problematic, but, for soybeans, planting into a cover crop of clover or barley works well. “We really don’t care how tall it is. The cover crop roots help improve the biology of the soil and makes our crops healthier,” he said. “On our beans, we have found that where we plant green rather than brown, it yields better.”
He feels the cover crops provide some early season stress for the soybeans and that actually improves yield, “The shade and the root competition provides a little stress which is what the soybeans need to yield better.” He told HAT he discovered the benefits quite by accident, but is now a firm believer in planting green.