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60-In. Rows May Help Cover Crops
“We’re not afraid to do things differently on our farm, so planting corn in 60-in. wide rows rather than 30 in. wasn’t that far-fetched,” says Illinois farmer Monte Bottens. He and his father Bob planted about 160 acres of 60-in. row corn in 2018 to see if the wider spacing helped establish better cover crops without reducing corn yield.
  “Basically we took the same nutrients and seeds that would go into two 30-in. rows and put them into one 60-in. row,” Bottens says. “The wider spacing allows more sunlight to reach all sides of the corn plants and allows more sun to reach the cover crops, too.”
  Another reason for their experiment was to see if the cover crop would grow quickly enough to allow sheep to graze on the cover crop immediately after they harvested the corn. “If we could get the same yield as 30-in. rows and gain ground on the cover crop it would be a win-win situation. We’d have revenue from the corn, improved soil health from the cover crops, and grazing feed for livestock.”
  Yields posted on the test fields were very good in 2018, Bottens says, and they intend to evaluate the concept again in 2019, adding the variation of different hybrids, various populations, and east/west rows vs. north/south rows. Says Bottens, “I think there’s a good possibility that twin 60-in. rows, with seeds planted in rows about 4 in. apart may produce better yields, along with an improved cover crop.” In 2018 their cover crop didn’t grow as well as planned because of when it was planted, along with weather issues.
  Bob Recker is a retired equipment engineer and currently a farm consultant working with more than 20 growers who’ve tried the 60-in. row system. Recker says there isn’t a significant increase or decrease in yield with the system, but the cover crops should definitely be better.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bottens Family Farm, 18284 N 1100th Ave., Cambridge, Ill. 61238.

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #3