Second Crop or Empty Soil?

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

After the harvest of cereals or other major crops many farmers just leave the soil empty until the next sowing in the fall or even spring. Thus soils stay empty 3-5 months and that is not economical. With second crop cultivation, farmers can get second harvest and get higher revenue per ha, which means higher profit. Besides the economic aspect, second crop cultivation has environmental impact also. Very successfully can be to overcome "empty" period in which extremely adverse effects are taking place on bare soil. Furthermore, post-harvest in soil remains large amount of unused nitrogen. So in the second sowing there is no need to add much nitorgen, just about 30-60 kg / ha and if the previous crop were legumes, fertilization is completely absent.

Which culture to sow as a second crop?

There are several criteria for the selection of culture for second cropping:

  • Purpose - cultivation for the production of grain, silage, green fodder, sideration (green manure), a honey grazing. Cultures that can be grown are corn, sorghum, forage kale, underground kohlrabi, sweet corn, snap bean, southern peas, melons, fodder beet, forage mallow, oilseed radish, rapeseed, soybeans, Sudan grass, millet, buckwheat, phacelia, carrot.
  • Resistance - endurance on high summer temperatures and less available quantity of water during the hottest part of the year. Among the most resistant are counted sorghum, Sudan grass, forage mallow and millet.
  • Short vegetation - no longer than 90 days.
  • Seed price - important criteria, especially in second crops used for green manure (sideration). The seed for second cropping is often not purchased, is used seed from "domestic production", ie mercantile seed, which results in lower yields.

Agrotechnic of second cropping

The limiting factor in the cultivation of second crops is low or insufficient amount of precipitation in some years, making this production risky. Daily water loss by evaporation from the soil on untreated stubble is 0.5-2 mm of water per hectare in one day (5,000-20,000 l/ha per day). To minimized water losses, after harvest farmers should carry out ASAP soil tillage, fertilizing and seeding, and then raise irrigation system. Since the soil surface is almost always dry, sowing seeds of second crops is done at the lower limit of normal germination. Otherwise, the seed will be in unfavorable conditions for germination. Also, the amount of sowing must normally be higher than usual, mostly from 10-30%, but sometimes (depending on the sort and purpose of culture in farming) from 25-100%. The success of second cropping depends on climatic conditions, and the amount of rain in the summer. Farmers themselves have to decide to take that step, and to find the optimal solution for growing of second crops. Agrivi guides farmers with knowledge base of all operations like soil tillage, protection, fertilization and other agricultural practices, with details on when and how to perform them included. Save good soil properties, have less soil tillage, less or no fertilization and higher yields with second sowing. Apply best farm management practices and improve your farming.