Cover crop tour gets look at growing two plants at once, among other methods

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BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Nathan Garner and Helgar Creek Farms have been growing cover crops for years.

Most of the time they will grow crops for cattle feed after they till their corn. This year they teamed with the University of Idaho Extension office to try something different. They tried growing their cover crops at the same time as they grew corn.

“Water is on everybody’s minds, we’re trying to double utilize the water to try to get cover crops to grow, chop the corn off and be able just to turn the cows out two to three weeks after harvest,” Garner said.

They tried planting the same day as they planted their corn – May 15. They then tried the 15th of the next three months to see what would work. They found that the crops they planted in the corn field in June and July grew well.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Garner said.

Overall they didn’t get much out of those fields this year. They planted smaller amounts at different times to find out what would work. Next year, Garner expects it to be a different story.

“I think we’ll be way more successful,” he said, which his cow guys are excited about. They won’t have to wait weeks for a crop to grow to send the cattle out to graze. Garner is excited too. He’d be getting two crops out of the water he’d use for one.

Garner explained the experiment to a group of about 50 people at his farm on Thursday. They were bussed there by the Minidoka, East Cassia and West Cassia Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

“We do it to give people the chance to take a look at what they can try to get on their farm,” said Russ Souchan, a supervisor with the Minidoka Soil and Water Conservation District.

The 2017 Cover Crop Tour took people to five different farms across the Mini-Cassia area to see how cover crops were grown and used. Some of them were for grazing, some to improve soil health.

“Anything that we can be a part of that helps out with that is something we’re definitely interested in,” Souchan said.

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