Time to plan for cover crops
Make this a year to ‘Cover Some Ground,’ Soil Health Partnership says
OUIS — When it comes to growing cover crops, some common advice from the more than 100 farmers enrolled in the Soil Health Partnership is “start small.” The SHP is encouraging farmers new to cover crops to start small, but start now.
A cover crop is a crop planted primarily to reduce soil erosion, improve soil health, and protect water quality, among other benefits. Typical varieties in the Midwest include cereal rye, oats and tillage radish.
David Moose, an Auburn, Ill. farmer enrolled in the SHP program, has grown cover crops on his farm for several years. Kneeling in his black soil at a November field day, Moose pulls up a tiny green plant. The cereal rye’s thin roots extend deeper into the soil than looks possible.
“This root is already nearly 12 inches long,” Moose says. “It will grow to be another one or two feet down in the soil, providing a nice environment for worms, and creating channels for water to go down deep. I don’t have to rip up the soil for this to happen.”
Growing cover crops, usually in fall and winter, can provide striking benefits to soil health, including:
- Erosion Prevention. Reducing the soil’s exposure to wind and water can help keep precious topsoil in place.
- Restoring Organic Matter. Some components of organic matter can help bind soil.....(To Read more, click the following link: