13 November 2010

Big Cover Crop Radishes--Are they good or not so good?

It seems like marketing companies like to show the "State Fair" Radishes in their sales pieces..."my radish is bigger than their radish" kind of marketing. Well, are ...

hi steve robinson with plant cover crops

calm we're in a field of radish chickling vetch and peas in the Bowling Green Ohio area today is November 11th 2010 and we're out looking at a fairly large field that was planted after wheat had been harvested the ground was then tilled and then it was blown on the seed was blown on and then tilled into the ground this has been an exceptionally dry year in this part of Ohio and this part of the Midwest and the thing that's amazing to me is we've got some pretty big radishes out here with very very little moisture probably less than 3 inches of moisture since this has been planted and yet we've got some radishes that are just out of control you might say this plant right here was pulled up earlier and we have just about seven inches down to this point well down to the nub here not counting what went on down below that and so we've got a very large sphere of influence almost both hands across here at the surface level and as we even get into the surface just about an inch and a half two inches we still are just barely overlapping here so it's a wonderful opportunity to help lift and build soil now we've got a plant here

that has not been dug up yet and one thing that we've seen in some earlier digging today is that we found a pretty good sphere of influence around these radishes now I'm not telling you we need to have a radish that's this big all of the time but I'm telling you when we do have radishes that are this big they have a pretty good influence on the surface around them now just to do an experiment we're going to come out here and dig where there's no radish and no cover crop okay so we got some effort going into that and we are digging I'm able to get into the surface about two and a half inches is all okay now we're going to come to within six inches of this radish maybe let's say five inches of this radish now let's do six and we're going to see what how it goes in there oh my all right with about the same amount of pressure on the shovel six inches away from the radish we're just over six inches maybe six and a half inches into the surface around you know six inches away from this giant radish now again I'm not sure we want these giant radishes but when we have them we're still getting some benefit now we're going to do a little digging

here to find out what kind of depth we're getting earlier we found one that was just about 16 or 17 inches deep underneath the surface of the soil oh my look at this I'm going to quit right there right now we're nine inches from the center of the red as well as to eight inches from the center of the radish six and a half inches from the outside and I've got 10 inches of influence that far away from this radish so that is amazing at least to me it's amazing so I think that to most farmers they would find this to be a real good opportunity to help break up the surface of the soil and the nice thing is we're also going to be holding on to nutrients as my nickname for these things is their nutrient storage vessels and I think that I know I'm going to break this big rudolf I'm I almost always do but again we're really really dry here so here I am again 6-8 inches away from the surface of that radish and I'm getting able to get in deep alright I popped it so I know that I didn't get the whole radish you get the whole root now again we've got peas out here we've got chickling vetch out here the one

thing I see already in here and we've got another smaller radish close by look at all the route around here this radish doesn't look very big but we've got roots of this teeny tiny little radish that everybody goes oh that's not all that good I've got roots about nine inches deep now are they big roots no no they're not butts point is I've got roots going down now we did a little test little bit ago I think our hard pan we found is just about nine inches so we're getting down into that area with our radishes and getting through that hard pan so again this is a field that's tilled it's not no tilled even though it may be no tilled next spring it's not typically a no-till field so we've got some harder soil well I'd like to get this whole thing I know we found some 28 inches deep on some different radishes we don't have quite the stand of peas and that's here that we'd like to head are we just didn't have the moisture really and maybe not the planting depth either to really get this to do quite as well on her on our legumes is what we would have liked I'm going to do a little digging

here so I know this is just like watching paint dry to some of you guys but the reality is is that how there's our spirit of influence is roots coming off the side it looks like it feels like oh by golly within that same sphere we've got another radish so it wasn't just one radish by itself that was throwing out a big root and nothing else around it at all we've got other radishes with it so that's also good good boy our main area of really helping our soils right there up now there's another Attis close by again at least 9 inches in the soil YouTube's going to love this one all right well obviously I broke off the main part of the radish but here we are with again a radish is pretty darn good size in the soil and it lifted up the soil probably close to about a half inch where it was right around the edge of the right at ground level probably lifted that soil about a half inch obviously I broke off like I thought I did the main root going down here's a big part right here I broke off but nevertheless I'm going to guess we're probably seven inches deep with this of what we got into soil yeah counting this little tab there where

we're over nine inches deep so we're down into that plow pan area and drilling through with with these nutrient storage vessels and that's the other nice thing is we're literally holding on to a lot of nutrients out here we're producing nitrogen with the peas and the vets chickling vetch where we're getting through the the tough part of the of the plow pan and you know we're here where this radish is I'm almost able to get my shovel my Spade all the way into the soil so I'm definitely through the plow pan and that's without a lot of effort and again that plow pans at about nine inches so there we are surface level I've got my whole Spade in there so that radish has made such a tremendous difference in a sphere of around 12 inches in diameter and what an amazing product that that this is these happen to be the groundhog radishes along with the Austrian winter pea in the chickling vetch Greg if you'll span out across the field here you can see it's a pretty good size field and very thankful to have the farmer that ham dealer that that worked with this project and again we've got the peas and

veg out here and as you look across you don't see a lot of that but if we look right down here Greg you can see the chickling vetch and again our soil surface is really hard now these weren't occu lated so it'll be interesting to see what kind of nodulation we might have I know on most things this year the nodules have not been as big or plentiful just because it's so dry but we'll see how this chickling vetch is doing this batch is a product that is a little easier to use then then the hairy vetch is and again they there's our our surface here about it's kind of hard whoops so we're about four inches down is where the hard pan is here so we've got we're dug away about two inches and then that ground is just really hard so you can see some some of the root over here but the whole idea here is to not only to add nitrogen to this soil but also to build soil man that is so hard it's hard to break apart how's this for home video all right be awful nice to find some find some build nodules in here of which ma'am broke that Rudolph sometimes there's as much art to this as

there are to science and I'm not a very good artist okay there's our main root and our main root again our hardpan was found here about four inches in this area it's right to here and we're through that so even with our chickling vetch were through that hard area there's some modulation finally got a little bit of modulation going on right here not like we would traditionally find when there's good moisture but we've also got nitrogen in the top here I've got a little bit of modulation going on in the root this isn't as big as what we would have found last year in the same region but nevertheless is still doing some good and it's putting on nitrogen to help feed these radishes so again Dave Robeson with plant cover crops calm and we're in a field of radishes chickling vetch and Austrian winter peas in the Bowling Green Ohio area on November 11th 2010