Farmer Focus: Cover crops show their value in high winds

It is hot and dry in Africa. I am beginning to sound like a stuck record but we are experiencing another very challenging planting season.

We received a bit of rain last week so we are madly trying to get as much in before it dries out again.

The calendar is not waiting for us so we are at that part of the season where one has to take a few chances.

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Last month, I spoke about the wheat cover crop I sowed into some burned fields of mine.

Most of that wheat has now been terminated. I have planted maize into some of that cover crop, the rest is going to get dry beans.

The cover crop has certainly done its thing as far as wind erosion goes. The wind blows most days and there is no dust blowing from my cover cropped fields.

Watch Bruce Shepherd’s video of wind erosion in South Africa below:


The same cannot be said for my neighbour. There is almost constantly a huge cloud of dust coming from his unburned, tilled fields.

My cover crop is also going to protect the little maize plants, as they emerge, from being sandblasted.

Residue issues

No-till planting has its challenges. Not only do you have varying soil types and conditions but also changes in the residues.

We moved to a land with tall stooling rye, which I had sprayed dead a few weeks ago.

Immediately the planter started to bung up, all that material started to wrap around the fertiliser tine.

I adjusted the residue managers, first more aggressive and then less aggressive, to no avail.

As a last resort, I took them off completely and immediately everything had room to flow and planting continued.

Planting season is hectic enough, but to add to the chaos I had 30 oxen stolen. This certainly is a great loss and I hope we recover them soon.