A history of cover crops has its benefits

Fifth-generation Michigan crop and dairy farmer Blaine Baker tells Brownfield converting to 100 percent cover crops and no-till over the last decade has been helpful this season.

“The cover crops sucked up a little bit more moisture, so we were able to get out maybe a day earlier.”

Like many of his neighbors in Lenawee County, Baker says he couldn’t plant about 40 percent of his acres even though he was in the field until the Fourth of July.  He says for the areas that went unplanted, having a cover, to begin with, is paying off.

“Those covers have gone to seed; they’re coming back and about three to four inches tall.  We essentially don’t have any weeds.”    

Baker only plans to purchase about 20 percent of his typical cover crop seed this year because so much has reseeded.

While chopping third cutting alfalfa, from the cab Baker tells Brownfield forage quality is finally improving.

“The bulk of our haylage is not going to be what we like, we’re in pretty decent shape on the silage front as far as tonnage, we need time.”    

He says the season is what it is, but he’s ready for next year.

Baker’s conservation efforts were on display at this week’s Lenawee County Center for Excellence Field Day.

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