Intro to Cover Crops


What is it? Why should I try it?

Today's farmers are challenged with an extreme environment and limited resources. How do we get ahead and remain profitable while transitioning to organic growing systems? How do we replicate these organic growing systems from small-scale to large-scale?

One of the easiest ways to ensure maximum efficiency of water usage, nutrification of soil, regulation of pH in the soil while encouraging the highest amount of biology possible is by utilizing a cover crop. There are a few things to consider. First and foremost are which cover crop should you use? Also, what are the benefits of a cover crop, and how does it affect how you fertilize and treat your field both before, during, and after the season. We will discuss all of this.


Here is a list of a few popular cover crops as well as a few benefits/statistics about each one:

Crimson Clover: 

Crimson Clover

Provides N for early spring use
Helps build soil and slow erosion 
Provides a vigorous inter-row solution
Flowers produce nectar attracting bees 
Plant a few weeks before first frost 
Best as an over-winter crop 

Red Clover:

Red Clover

Fixes N year throughout its entire lifecycle
Increases microbial activity in soil
Increases aeration/oxygenation of soil
Competes against invasive weeds
Plant early in spring to provide benefits
Best for inter-row coverage

Alfalfa: 

Alfalfa

Used in rotation with your cash crop
Can help naturally sequester triacontanol
Harvested every 25-35 days 
Its deep roots increase microbial activity 
Sequesters beneficial fungi/insects
 

Brown Mustard:

Brown Mustard

Fantastic in-between row crop
Protects soil from erosion/desiccation
Invigorates plant growth with N fixation
Improves soil structure and H2O holding
Enhances biological diversity in the soil

...Check in next week for more on how to Fertilize your Cover Crop!

 

“Garden responsibly, because we did not inherit this planet from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children!”


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