Glossary of Terms

Ryegrass Related

Any grass of the genus Lolium. Includes both annual and perennial species and intermediate types.

Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.)
A grass that is indigenous to Europe, ryegrass is an open pollinating species (readily cross pollinates) and there is a large genetic variability within populations.

Italian ryegrass
A common name for annual ryegrass in the U.S.  Sometimes used to refer to varieties developed from southern European countries, which are the dominant type of ryegrass in cultivation.

Westerwold annual ryegrass
Refers to varieties which originated from northern Europe (Netherlands) which tend to be early maturing true annuals with no vernalization requirements* (see General Ag Terms).  Westerwold annual ryegrass is an ecotype of Italian ryegrass selected for earliness, and is not botanically different from Italian ryegrass. Westerwold types are not necessarily more winter hardy than Italian types.

One set of chromosomes (as in pollen).

Two sets of chromosomes. Most higher plants and animals are diploid.

Four sets of chromosomes, which is twice the normal typically found in diploid plants. There are tetraploid varieties of annual and perennial ryegrass.

Seed & Cover Crop Related Subjects

Species. An interbreeding group of plants or animals which have in common one or more characteristics which differentiate them from other species. Crosses between species are impossible in most cases or do not produce fertile offspring, with the exception of very closely related species. For example, perennial ryegrass and annual ryegrass can readily cross pollinate.

Kind. In the Federal Seed Act, a “kind” is the term used for the seed of one or more related plants known by a common name such as carrot, wheat, and annual ryegrass.

Variety. A variety is a subdivision of a kind, and has different characteristics from another variety of the same kind.

VNS. “Variety not stated” means there is no variety name associated with the seed. There is no determination of identify beyond the level of kind. The term VNS is not allowed for labeling in some states.

Mixture. The term means seeds consisting of more than one kind, each present in excess of 5% of the whole. For example, a mixture of annual ryegrass and crimson clover.

Variety blends. A variety blend has two or more varieties of the same kind. Variety blends are common in the turf industry, and are also used in forage and cover crop markets.

Certified blends. For certified seed, a blend is considered a mixture of two or more lots of certified seed of the same kind and variety.

Brand. The term means the name, design, or trademark of the seed offered for sale.  A brand of seed allows a company to change the variety used over time, as improved lines are developed.

General Agricultural Terms

Conservation Tillage
Any tillage and planting system that covers 30 percent or more of the soil surface with crop residue, after planting, to reduce soil erosion by water. Where soil erosion by wind is the primary concern, any cropping system that maintains at least 1,000 pounds per acre of flat, small grain residue equivalent on the surface throughout the critical wind erosion period is considered conservation tillage.

Conventional Tillage
Full width tillage that disturbs the entire soil surface and is performed prior to and/or during planting. Where less than 15 percent residue covers the ground after planting, or less than 500 pounds per acre of small grain residue equivalent throughout the critical wind erosion period. Generally involves plowing or intensive (numerous) tillage trips. Weed control is accomplished with crop protection products and/or row cultivation.

Corn Belt
The area of the United States where corn is a principal cash crop, including Iowa, Indiana, most of Illinois, and parts of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Crop Residues
Crop residues absorb energy of raindrops to reduce the soil splash. Plants and close-growing crops minimize raindrop impact as well as hold the soil together, while acting as a filter. They also reduce the amount of runoff, as do subsurface drainage system.

Planted with a grain drill. Grain drills differ from row crop planters in that they do not meter individual seeds, but drop small groups of seed in a process referred to as bulk metering. Drills plant crops in closely spaced rows (typically seven to 10 inches on center) that will not be mechanically cultivated.

Erosion is a selective process, removing the fine silt, clay, and organic matter at a much faster rate than coarser sands. This can result in poorer soil tillage and lower nutrient and water-holding capacity if nothing is done about the situation.

This is the stage when the crop starts flowering. In corn, tassel emergence and pollen shedding takes place at this stage. Two to three days after pollen shedding, silk emergence takes place. At this stage, typically occurs 51-56 days after planting the corn seed, pollination between silks (female) and tassels (male) takes place.

Forage Crop
Annual or perennial crops grown primarily to provide feed for livestock. During harvesting operations, most of the above ground portion of the plant is removed from the field and processed for later feeding.

Any vegetated land that is grazed or that has the potential to be grazed by animals.

Ground Water
The water under the surface of the earth that is found within the pore spaces and cracks between the particles of soil, sand, gravel and bedrock.

Gully Erosion
They are formed when channel development has progressed to the point where the gully is too wide and too deep to be tilled across. These channels carry large amounts of water after rains and deposit eroded material at the foot of the gully. They disfigure landscape and make land unfit for growing crops.

The product of any of a variety of perennial crops, typically grasses or legumes, that can be used a feed for ruminant animals.

The stage in which the plant’s flower (seed) head pushes its way through the flag leaf collar.

Integrated Pest Management. An integrated approach to controlling plant pests using careful monitoring of pests and weeds. It may include use of natural predators, chemical agents and crop rotations.

The downward transport of dissolved or suspended minerals, fertilizers, pesticides and other substances by water percolating through the soil.

Legumes are plants or crops such as soybeans, alfalfa, and clover that are high in nitrogen production and are helpful when replenishing the soil and improving its ability to prevent soil erosion.

Loam is an easily crumbled soil that consists of a varying mixture of clay, silt, and sand.

Mulch is a type of protective covering such as sawdust, compost, burlap, shredded wood or paper strips used on the ground to reduce water evaporation, control weeds and enrich the soil. It is also very important in preventing water erosion in newly formed waterways and other areas where vegetation still has not had enough time to establish itself. The mulch intercepts the erosive forces of raindrops, thus reducing erosion until the seeding produces its own protective cover.

Mulch Tillage
Full-width tillage involving one or more tillage trips which disturbs all of the soil surface and is done prior to and/or during planting. Tillage tools such as chisels, field cultivators, disks, sweeps or blades are used. Weed control is accomplished with crop protection products and/or cultivation.

No-Tillage, commonly called no-till
Crop production system in which the soil is left undisturbed from harvest to planting. At the time of planting, a narrow strip up to 1/3 as wide as the space between planted rows (strips may involve only residue disturbance or may include soil disturbance) is engaged by a specially equipped planter. Planting or drilling is accomplished using disc openers, coulters, row cleaners, in-row chisels, or roto-tillers. Weed control is accomplished primarily with crop protection products. Other common terms used to describe No-till include direct seeding, slot planting, zero-till, row-till, and slot-till.

Land used primarily for the production of domesticated forage plants for livestock (in contrast to range land, where vegetation is naturally-occurring and is dominated by grasses and perhaps shrubs.

Refers to the timing of pest control operations. Postemergence operations are accomplished during the period subsequent to the emergence of a crop from the soil and must be completed prior to point at which crop growth prohibits in-field travel (unless alternative application means – aerial or irrigation-based – are used).

Refers to the timing of pest control operations. Preemergence operations are accomplished during the period subsequent to the planting of a crop and prior to the emergence of that crop from the soil.

Refers to the timing of pest control operations. Preplant operations are accomplished during the period subsequent to the harvest of one season’s crop and prior to the planting of the next season’s crop.

Primary Tillage
The mechanical manipulation of soil that displaces and shatters soil to reduce soil strength and to bury or mix plant materials and crop chemicals in the tillage layer. Tends to leave a rough soil surface that is smoothed by secondary tillage.

Ridge Tillage
The soil is left undisturbed from harvest to planting except for strips up to 1/3 of the row width. Planting is completed on the ridge and usually involves the removal of the top of the ridge. Planting is completed with sweeps, disk openers, coulters, or row cleaners. Residue is left on the surface between ridges. Weed control is accomplished with crop protection products  and/or cultivation. Ridges are rebuilt during row cultivation.

Rill Erosion
The removal of soil by concentrated water running through little streamlets, or headcuts. Detachment in a rill occurs if the sediment in the flow is below the amount the load can transport and if the flow exceeds the soil’s resistance to detachment. As detachment continues or flow increases, rills will become wider and deeper.

Row Crop
Agricultural crop planted, usually with mechanical planting devices, in individual rows that are spaced to permit machine traffic during the early parts of the growing season

Runoff occurs when the rainfall rate exceeds the soil’s infiltration capacity. On sloping areas, runoff is a concern since it can carry soil particles, nutrients, and other chemicals with it.

Secondary Tillage
The mechanical manipulation of soil that follows primary tillage. Performed at shallower depths than primary tillage, secondary tillage can provide additional soil pulverization, crop chemical mixing, soil surface leveling, and firming, and weed control. In conventional tillage systems, the final secondary tillage pass is used to prepare a seedbed.

Generic term for introducing seed into the soil-air-water matrix, typically via a mechanized process that will maximize the likelihood of subsequent seed germination and plant growth.

A feed prepared by chopping green forage (e.g. grass, legumes, field corn) and placing the material in a structure or container designed to exclude air. The material then undergoes fermentation, retarding spoilage. Silage has a water content of between 60 and 80%.

Soil Test
A soil test indicates the availability of nutrients present in the soil and the availability of those nutrients to crops grown there.

Planted using a broadcast seeding machine that distributes seed upon the soil surface. The seed may then be incorporated into the soil to ensure adequate seed-soil contact for germination.

Strip Tillage
The process in which only a narrow strip of land needed for the crop row is tilled.

The mechanical manipulation of soil performed to nurture crops. Tillage can be performed to accomplish a number of tasks including: seedbed preparation, weed control, and crop chemical incorporation.

Transgenic Crop
Contains a gene or genes which have been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring the gene(s) through pollination. The inserted gene(s) may come from an unrelated plant or from a completely different species.

Many perennial plants require  a period of cold, and dormancy, to later produce flowers.

A form of nitrogen that converts readily to ammonium.