Sundays are for tactor work
Another fall weekend at the farm, with what I expect to be the last of the hot weather. Hot by October standards, anyway, but still beautiful for working.
This week, we started mowing and disking in our Sourghum-Sudan Grass cover crop. Although we had seeded cowpeas with the sudan grass, they did very poorly, so essentially we ended up with a straight grass cover crop and not the grass/legume mix we had hoped for.
Cover crops are one of the areas where I really feel like I am driving blind. While there is plenty of good information out there - I have almost no experience to serve as a frame of reference when making important farm planning decisions. It's a little unnerving even for me, who likes to dive into things head first. Maybe it is overconfidence, but I have always been the learning-by-doing type.
The flail mower cut through the grass easily, chopping it down but not chopping it up as much as we had hoped. With width of the mower is just right to match up the tire tracks on each pass. It took me about two hours to mow half the field, which we think is about 2 acres. It also took me about 2 gallons of gas.
After the mower was unhooked, we got the disk out into the field to incorporate the sudan grass so all that biomass can feed the soil biota. It was a big job for our little disk and little tractor.
I was able to get two passes done over everything, the first pass with the disks relatively straight going crosswise to the direction I mowed in to chop up the sudan grass into smaller pieces. The second pass, in the other direction and with a little more angle, was to get it mixed in with the soil.
While some of the material got mixed in, there was still a lot of residue on the surface when I finished. I would have liked to take another pass but we didn't have time - so that will have to wait until next weekend. I wonder what incorporating the cover crop into the soil really means. How much incorporation is enough?
I realize it might be a couple years before many of my questions about cover crops are resolved. In the meantime, I hope we happen upon more good decisions than bad ones.