Tillage Questions Peanut Notes No. 53 2022

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Question:

If you don’t mind, can you give me off the top of your head the following as it pertains to your best guess for the VC area?

The percentage of peanut farmers who either plant behind cover crops or plant cover crops after harvest on peanut land. I would assume less planting after harvest, particularly if the vines are left in the field. I believe I heard you say the amount of nitrogen that is derived from leaving the vines in the field? What are our typical cover crops? Rye grass and Wheat?

I believe our average rotation up here would be over 3 years on average with many striving for 3 to 5 years. Would NC and SC be close to that?

How many of our peanuts are planted using reduced tillage, and how is that broken down into strip and no till?

Jordan:

About 30% plant in reduced till. The majority of that is strip till, maybe 5% no till. Mostly wheat as the cover and I suspect about half of reduced till has a cover crop. There is no appreciable N for a summer crop like corn or cotton. Our climate minimizes that. For growers planting wheat for harvest after peanuts there is a N contribution. Probably 15 pounds per acre. Most growers have at least 3 crops between peanut plantings, but not everyone. Many growers have 4 or 5. I think we have soybeans on 25% of peanut land, at least. We recommend they plant peanuts then soybean then at least 3 other crops (corn, cotton, sorghum, sweetpotato.)

I am going to search for closer numbers on tillage. Billy Barrow made a presentation at APRES and summarized a survey we did of the 3 states about 3 years ago.

Jordan:

Hi everyone, I had some questions about tillage practices for peanuts. I gave a short answer but then went back to some of the information I have collected at meetings in NC, VA, and SC. Here are those data.

1) historical data over time for tillage in NC

2) expansion to VA and SC in 2018 (but “reduced till” was vague – I think growers interpreted that as a reduction in conventional tillage practices but still conventional tillage, as well as no till and strip till)

3) “clarification” survey on specifics in 2019 (looks like NC lags behind SC and VA in no till/strip till, with SC the leader)

I did not ask what cover crop but I imagine it is most often wheat, that is used for soil protection only. Cereal rye is also a great cover crop that produces a lot of biomass for pest suppression, but I don’t see much of that around. It is a challenge at times to manage and to get a good stand of peanuts and other crops. But it suppresses thrips and weeds quite well.

Question:

After seeing your results and the possible confusion over the tillage question I took the safe route and thought it best to say that we are around 30% reduced tillage but it is increasing every year. Is that fair particularly when we could actually be higher now than the 30%?

Jordan:

I think that 30% is a good number for Virginia (based on the last, specific operation survey for the 2019 crop). For the region, I would say 21% (NC, SC, VA). I think if you look at NC over time, since 1998, our footprint has really decreased (much less moldboard plowing and less field cultivation.)

Question:

So your VC area figure would be closer to 20%?

Jordan:

The average for all three states in 21%. See slide 5.

Brandenburg:

Should we assume that with current fuel prices, there will be an even greater reduction in tillage?

Jordan:

Maybe secondary tillage in conventional tillage, but not a major swing toward no till/strip till in 2022. But maybe in the future it will increase. But we take risks on some soils when we move in that direction. Digging is a challenge in no till and strip till depending on soil series.

2022 Tillage Practices Historical 2018 2019