Alfalfa After Row Crop: Soil Health, Cover Crops, and No-Till

Agronomy question asked by Travis in Ballard County 6 months ago.


I know this is likely a deep topic without a single right answer, but what should be the happy medium in tillage practicesI'm keen to move towards spring seedings instead of fall seedings based on the past two "failed" attempts.

Next year we will be seeding quite a bit of row crop land into alfalfa.  One field will be corn this year, and the other is soybeans.

  1. Are there any major concerns or management practice considerations when taking over a field that has been row crop for many years?  Perhaps past chemistries?  If only the latter, is there any soil testing procedure that can be performed to determine any carryover risk?
  2. Would it be beneficial at all to do a fall seeding of a cover crop, followed by seeding the alfalfa in the spring?
  3. If we're not practicing no-till, perhaps run a primary ripper and chisel pass in the fall?
  4. Perhaps most importantly, with alfalfa being such a small seed needing precise placement, does the importance of tillage and preparing a near-perfect seedbed outweigh any actual benefit of implementing a no-till practice? Especially since the lifespan of the alfalfa is so long -- there will be organic matter and living roots increasing soil health for many years, right?

Agronomy in Ballard County
posted 6 months ago
Travis H.
Ballard County

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