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Cover Crops

Posted by kate.ryan | August 4, 2015

What is a Cover Crop?

It’s any crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil. Cover crops are one of the most effective ways to improve soil health, reduce outside inputs, and protect natural resources.

Why use a Cover Crop?

Prevent erosion

cover crop mix was crimson clover, annual ryegrass, Austrian winter pea and dicon radishLeaves soften/slow rainfall while robust root systems hang on to soil.

Retain nutrients

Plants take up unused nitrogen/nutrients storing them for next season’s crops.Wheat with red clover

Improve water quality

cover crops in gardenSediment and nutrients are held by the cover crop, preventing them from leaching into surface and ground water.

Reduce weeds

turning cc in garden bedRapidly establishing cover crops smother weeds before they have a chance to grow.

Increase organic matter

Once turned into the soil, plant parts decompose at different rates to provide continuous supply.

Control soil pests & disease

Clover under cornSome cover crops provide a natural fungicide-type effect on pathogens, while others enhance beneficial soil biology.

Break up heavy soils

Daikon radish and others with large root systems can help break up hardpan and lighten heavy clay soils.

Fix nitrogen

Using legumes like crimson clover and field peas increase available nitrogen for the next crop.

Save money

Over time, the use of cover crops can help reduce the need for fertilizer while helping increase yields.

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