Cover Crops and Conservation Field Day
KERNZA, Cover Crops and Conservation Field Day
July 19 9:30-12:00
Lancaster Ag Research Station, 7396 Wisconsin 35 & 81, Lancaster, WI 53813
Imagine a grain crop that did not require planting every year. What might such a crop save us in labor, fuel and soil conservation? Imagine a grain crop that, after harvest, regrew and could be used as livestock forage. Imagine a crop with a 10 foot root system. How much sediment and nutrients might it remove and protect our waters?
You may say this is a dream, but plant breeders around the world have been chasing this dream for decades. One effort, led by The Land Institute in Kansas, focused upon breeding and selection of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) for seed size and grain yield. After six generations one early result is KERNZA.
Above ground KERNZA looks a lot like wheat. Is there a market for KERNZA? General Mills has indicated interest in developing KERNZA based products. It’s been used in pasta, bread and beer by other food businesses. Plovgh, based in Viroqua, is actively developing more markets for this grain.
Valentín D. Picasso Risso, Assistant Professor in Forages and Grazing in the Agronomy Department at UW-Madison has established KERNZA plots at Arlington and Lancaster Ag Research Stations as well as several farms across Wisconsin. A 10-acre field was established at the Lancaster location in the fall 2016 where plots are being grazed at different timings to study the impact of the latter on future grain potential.
Producers can learn more about KERNZA, it’s potential for Wisconsin, and the forage yield and quality data that has already been collected this first season, and then head out to the Lancaster plots to see this new crop first hand.
While cover crop adoption is sweeping the Midwest including Wisconsin, the Badger State is a little slower than our more southern neighbors. In Wisconsin, cover crops after wheat and corn silage harvest as rapidly gaining adoption. By the time corn grain and soybeans ripen, we are running out days before winter inevitably sets in. To be effective, cover crops need a certain level of growth to realize their significant advantages, without this they may establish but not have a net positive value to the farmer.
What and how can we establish cover crops sooner? Some cover crop species are more shade tolerant than others. UW has been looking at different species and effectiveness of inter-seeding into standing corn at the V5 stage.
Before heading out to see this year’s KERNZA and inter-seeding efforts at Lancaster, Ted Bay, Grant/Lafayette Crops Agent will review farmer experience with drills, air seeders and planes and Dan Smith, Southwest Regional Specialist with Nutrient and Pest Management Program will explain V5 seeding.
Rainfall simulator demonstration - “If we can’t see it, it must not exist”. What we do on our land...matters. No one thinks they have soil erosion, yet the evidence is clear after each passing storm, soil moves. The rainfall simulator is an engaging demonstration on the impact of different cropping and tillage systems on water infiltration rates and runoff.
Lancaster, Wisconsin 53813