Cover crops help keep winds from battering young cotton
The Texas Panhandle is cotton country. And, farmers there are no strangers to high winds.
The two can make for a less-than-perfect scenario when it comes to getting a cotton crop started, especially where soils are excessively sandy, like on John McDowell's farm near Shamrock, Texas. But, he's adapted a strip-till cover crop system that allows him to save those soils and generate a little extra income in the process.
"In our area of the Texas panhandle, we have very sandy soils and high winds, and we tried to figure out a way to hold our soils and protect our cotton plants when they're young," says McDowell, who was awarded the 2009 Ag Innovator of the Year award in St. Louis last summer (see more from the event). "We came up with this strip-till system where we interseed a rye crop into our standing cotton in August."
McDowell's cover crop system netted him the top honors in the 2009 Successful Farming Ag Innovator program, sponsored by Asgrow. The program honored farmers from around the country whose practical ideas -- whether large or small, relating to everything from machinery to overall farm management -- show true innovation on their farms.