Project GROW Keeps Growing

Project GROW Keeps Growing

Monday, July 15, 2019

By Dan Leininger, Water Conservationist

Project GROW is starting its second full year. GROW is an acronym for Growing Rotational crops On Wellfields. The Upper Big Blue NRD, in cooperation with the City of York, is demonstrating the use of crop rotations and cover crops on part of the City’s wellfield to improve soil health and maintain profitability.

This year a cash crop will be planted and harvested followed by a cover crop. The cover crop’s function is to protect the soil and tie up any Nitrate-Nitrogen that might be left by the cash crop. Any residual Nitrate-Nitrogen will be stored in the above ground biomass of the cover crop and will be available for next year’s cash crop.

Soil tests taken earlier this Spring at the GROW fields showed very little Nitrate-Nitrogen left in the soil from last year.

Plant tissue samples are being taken now to determine how much Nitrate-Nitrogen the cover crops will contribute to this year’s cash crops.

This year’s cash crop on the South field will be conventional corn with the North field planted to conventional soybeans. Originally, Field Peas were planned for the North field, but the cold and wet months of February and March prevented field pea planting, so soybeans were chosen as the best replacement.

The soybeans are being planted into the still alive cover crop with plans to terminate the cover crop before the soybeans emerge from the ground.

The Upper Big Blue and the City of York are excited about the results we have seen since implementing crop rotations of cash crops followed by cover crops to improve soil health and eliminate any possible Nitrate-Nitrogen contamination of York’s water supply.