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1999 SARE Project Soil Quality Forage Radish Cover Crops Research Rolling Research in Alabama

A Big One!

Field driveways in radishes

Forage radish - early fall

Forage radish - hole in spring

 

In 2001, the University of Maryland was doing cover crop research that included forage radishes. It was an effort to see if these rooting brassicas would help alleviate soil compaction. I didn't feel I had a compaction problem but was impressed with what the radishes did for the soil. Planted in late summer/early fall the forage radishes winterkilled-similar to oats-and left holes in the soil by April due to the roots rotting away. I also noticed there were no winter annual weeds in these plots and we later determined this was due to the fast fall growth that didn't allow weeds to grow. I saw these forage radishes in test plots for 2 more years then planted some in my own fields. In the fall of 2005 I planted over 40 acres which included 10 acres of field driveways where I am using them to break up compaction naturally rather then use my customized 2 row ripper/stripper. Due to the lack of large quantities of seed I now grow for seed production and have seed for sale. Contact me for availibility and quantity discounts.

Here are the basics of what I've learned so far with the help of
Dr. Ray Weil, University of MD
and Lisa Stocking, University of MD grad student:

Forage Radishes use up left over N in the fall however they do need at least 50lbs of N to maximize the benefits they have to offer. The N they recover in the fall will be availible for spring planted crops because the roots and leaves break down quickly. They do not like wet spots and will grow quite well in dry weather. Seed germination is high and has a similar sprouting capacity as winter rye. Seeding rate is around 10lbs per acre-adjust to conditions such as surface broadcast, direct drilling, etc. Overseeding standing soybeans or corn has been done successfully if adequate moisture is availible.

Forage Radish links:
Cover-cropping guru Steve Groff champions fall-planted forage radish mixes to renovate field lanes
Forage Radish, A New Cover Crop

Radishes - oats Radishes planted in field driveways
Radishes in wheel tracks Radish hairy vetch rye

Forage radish in the fall

Radish & crimson & clover

Radish driveway

Radish root - late winter

Steve & Cheri Groff Cedar Meadow Farm
679 Hilldale Road Holtwood, PA 17532
Phone: (717) 284-5152 Fax: (717) 284-5967 Email: steve@cedarmeadowfarm.com