Cover Crop Sampling & Nutrient Analysis
Are you interested in sampling your cover crops for nutrient analysis?
Last spring, through a partnership with the Kankakee County Farm Bureau and Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau, the Kankakee County SWCD worked with 10 producers to pull cover crop samples from their fields and send them in for nutrient analysis. Per field analyzed, a representative one square foot sample of cover crop was sent to Midwest Labs. Midwest Labs then determined the percent of the following elements: nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur and sodium. Trace elements (iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc) were reported in parts per million. From the results provided by Midwest Labs, we calculated pounds per acre of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur and sodium. Anonymous averages of all samples collected were pooled. Producers were provided with a copy of the nutrient analysis and interpreted results. See an anonymous example report here.
All samples were collected between April 14, 2017 and May 15, 2017. Fields differed in cover crop type (cereal rye or wheat), planting method, planting time and biomass. Overall, 21 samples were collected and analyzed for 10 producers within Kankakee, Ford and Iroquois counties. An average of 44.99 pounds/acre of nitrogen, 8.7 pounds/acre of phosphorous and 72.64 pounds/acre of potassium were removed by cover crops. K3SWCD's goal was to help make producers more aware of where their nutrients may be going, and to promote the positive benefits of using cover crops to sequester N, P and K, keeping them out of our water and available for cash crops. Ongoing efforts will reduce nutrient runoff and improve water quality both locally and in the watershed as a whole.