The future of cover crops

Jul 13, 2011

Winter cover crops are an important component of nutrient cycling, soil cover and organic matter content. Although its benefits are well documented, cover crop use in farming systems is relatively low. Research has shown that time and money are the two primary reasons why farmers are hesitant to adopt the technique. Developing innovative and cost-effective crop cover systems could increase the use of winter cover crops.

A scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and colleagues investigated the potential use of self-seeding winter cereal . Results from the study were published in the July-August 2011 issue of the .

Scientists measured the amount of green groundcover self-seeded winter cover crops produced after soybean harvests in the fall of 2007 and 2008. The study revealed that the cover crop's growth through self-seeding was most consistent using a wheat cover crop and mechanical before the soybean harvest.

"The significance of this research, in addition to lowering the cost and risk of establishing cover crops, is to extend the ecological functions that cover crops perform beyond their normal termination dates," explained Jeremy Singer, a researcher from USDA-ARS.

Organic crop producers can benefit from self-seeding cover crops because of the potential for enhanced weed suppression without disturbing the soil. Cover crops also increase nutrient retention and reduce soil erosion, which can improve water quality.

Research is ongoing at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment to find cover crop systems that minimize risk to crops and maximize their conservation benefits.

Explore further: Japan's new whaling plan will prove hunt is science: negotiator

More information: www.agronomy.org/publications/… -4/aj11-0045-pub.pdf

Provided by American Society of Agronomy

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Self seeding: An innovative management system

Apr 15, 2008

Winter cover crops provide important ecological functions that include nutrient cycling and soil cover. Although cover crop benefits to agroecosystems are well documented, cover crop use in agronomic farming systems remains ...

In Organic Cover Crops, More Seeds Means Fewer Weeds

Jan 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Farmers cultivating organic produce often use winter cover crops to add soil organic matter, improve nutrient cycling and suppress weeds. Now these producers can optimize cover crop use by ...

Nitrogen applied

Oct 01, 2008

Combating soil erosion is a primary concern for agricultural producers in the United States, and many have incorporated conservation tillage systems in their effort to maintain a profitable crop output.

Can hemp help the everglades?

Aug 06, 2007

Within Southern Florida, soil and water conditions indicate potential for leaching from the use of atrazine-based herbicides in corn crops. Scientists from USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University ...

No-tillage plus

Jul 28, 2008

Tropical soils often behave differently than temperate soils when being farmed. In tropical regions, soils lose nutrients quickly when cultivated. With food shortages looming and soil quality declining rapidly, new farming ...

Cover crops reduce erosion, runoff

May 18, 2010

Cover crops may be more effective at reducing soil erosion and runoff after maize harvest than rough tillage, according to scientists from the Université Catholique de Louvain, in collaboration with ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.