Steve Groff’s farm

My second visit of the day was Steve Groff’s farm. Steve is best known as the man who brought tillage radish to the cover crop market. I was shown around the farm by Steve and his two cover crop researchers Randy and Dan. Steve has about 700 different research plots on the farm at the moment and works with Dr Ray Weil of University of Maryland and other scientists.

Andy Howard with Steve Groff

The weather had got very hot and sticky so no apologies for the hat!

Steve has been experimenting with inter seeding cover crops into corn using an interseeder. The idea is that the cover crop is better established before the winter hits.

AH9 Covercrop Interseeded

Above is a picture of where the cover crop was interseeded last week. Only some has currently emerged. The cover crop mix here is their charlotte mix of radish triticale and Crimson clover, but they are also trying other mixes too. The corn rows are 30 inches and then there are two rows of interseeded cover crops 10 inches apart.

They were also doing work on nitrogen payback to try to understand the amount of nitrogen that is guaranteed to be returned from the cover crops. Not easy at all! Dr Ray Weil was also doing deep nitrogen tests to see how far down cover crops scavenge nitrogen and which ones are the best. They seem to get scavenging nitrogen from down as far as 6-7 foot and it seems that oats and radish are the best two for doing this at depth. They are still waiting for the results, though.

Steve’s son has the same curiosity as Steve and at the age of 18 is doing his own experiments. Below are pictures of winter wheat on 15 inch rows which he drilled soya beans into the wheat and will harvest the wheat at the beginning of July and the beans later in the year. It is a first time so a steep learning curve.

AH10 Drilled Soya Beans Into The Wheat

Finally we saw Steve’s no-till pumpkins, something he was told wasn’t possible. The pumpkins are drilled into a heavy cover crops which keeps the off the ground which leads to easy harvest and better quality. They had only just been planted.

AH11 No -till Pumpkins

It was a great and interesting afternoon even if a bit hot and sticky. Thank you for Steve and his team for showing me around.

AndrewHoward

AndrewHoward

Andrew Howard farms 345ha in a family partnership near Ashford, Kent, growing winter and spring wheat, winter and spring oilseed rape, spring oats, spring barley, winter barley, and field beans. His soils range from heavy weald clay to light sand. Andrew is a committee member of BASE UK, and member of LEAF and the Institute of Agricultural Management. As a Nuffield Scholar, Andrew will study companion cropping around the world.

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