Jon Douglas, CHS Seed Resources district sales manager and agronomist, worked with a grower in the Texas Panhandle to develop a cover crop program. The fields were planted this fall, and the results have been fascinating.
For the grower's needs, it was decided to plant a FractureRadish/cereal mix. FractureRadish is a proprietary daikon radish product, designed for maximum benefits as a cover crop. The field is irrigated.
The cover crop was planted a little later than recommended, but a warm fall provided excellent growing conditions. Thirty-five days after germination, the radish tubers were already approaching 12 inches, and it became apparent the shallowness of the first compaction layer. In some cases, the tubers were turned horizontal, However, most of the the large root systems were able to break through and continue growing downward, breaking up the compaction layer.
Approximately 70 days after germination, and shortly after the first killing freezes, plants were again dug up for analysis. The results were amazing. The tubers were then close to 2 feet long. Once again, it was apparent the depth of the shallow compaction layer. Some of the tubers may have been turned slightly horizontal but quickly broke through. Others had to work harder to punch through the compaction layer, but once they did, downward root growth happened quickly.
Other than breaking soil compaction, there are many benefits to this product. The tuber can grow very large, sucking up large quantities of nutrients that are then released back into the soil when the tuber slowly decays. Less nutrients are leached. This can be very beneficial for growers that must distribute manure during the "off season." The plants can add large quantities of organic content. The big, leafy foliage and quick germination suppress weed growth and prevent erosion.
For more information on FractureRadish and other cover crops, CLICK HERE.