Adding a Cash Crop to Your Cotton Field
The soil’s skin is the interface between the surface of the soil and the atmosphere. We chatted yesterday with certified crop adviser Tom Kilcer who identified that caring for that layer is critical for building soil health and structure.
If ignored, the layer can seal over resulting in the inability for moisture and air to break through.
One solution that he’s seen work well in a cotton system? Cover crops…
“You can be growing another crop that improves the soil and then, if you kill that crop, and only work a narrow strip through it to plant your seed, that surface is then protected by that vegetation. Air and water can move in and out.”
Kilcer says one cover crop has been doing very well for some farmers and, along with protecting soil health, is also adding another cash crop.
“We actually have developed a crop of winter triticale that is harvested. The farmers get to sell it to livestock and dairy farmers, but the stubble remains, the roots remain. It lets the water move in, lets the air move in. And the only place where you work the soil is that narrow strip where the cotton goes in the ground.”
Kilcer says that farmers of various crops are learning that we need to take better care of the soil while also caring for the seed bed. This cover crop system represents a marriage of the two.