Ag Resources > Cover Crops

Enhancing Soil Health with Cover Crops and Livestock

Presenter: Joshua Dukart, Field Representative for North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition & Holistic Management Certified Educator In Training. Cover Crops and Livestock

Cover Crop Roller

Improving Cover Crop Management for Increased Production in Organic Farming. The Cover Crop Roller was developed by The Rodale Institute in an effort to develop practical methods of cover crop management to increase production in Reduced Tillage Organic Farming. The Cover Crop Roller is manufactured and sold by I & J Manufacturing, LLC of Gap, PA. The Cover Crop Roller mounts to the front of the tractor with a Three Point Hitch (available here), leaving room for the seeder at the back. This means you can knock down weed suppressing mats of cover crops and plant through it all in the same pass! Cover Crop Roller

Adding Cover Crops to a No Till System

Dan Forgey, farm manager at Cronin Farms in South Dakota, has been using no-till management for more than 17 years. Over that time, Forgey has developed a keen understanding of how his farming system works and where new challenges and opportunities exist. Several years ago, Forgey began thinking about how he might include cover crops on the 8500-acre farm to improve soil and the bottom line. But how best to do this in a no-till system? Usually, cover crops are tilled into the soil while they are still green in order to promote soil quality and fertility, but that is not an option in a no-till system. Forgey received a SARE grant to test the feasibility of using cover crops at Cronin Farms. It�s an on-going experiment, but after three years, results are promising. One cover crop mix of turnips, cowpeas and lentils increased corn yields by 18-20 bushels per acre in the SARE farm trials. Other benefits include: healthier soil, with increasing benefits over a period of 4 to 5 years; better soil aggregation and texture through the addition of organic matter and enhanced activity of soil microorganisms; economic savings as a result of reduced use of purchased fertilizer. Forgey is aware that the cover crops in this system may perform differently in drought years, when a cover crop could deplete soil water needed by the cash crop (wheat, corn, soybeans). He will monitor this closely in coming years. As for managing cover crops without tillage, Forgey's answer is to have his cattle graze them. Enjoy watching this video to learn more.

Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures

Cover crops could be considered the backbone of any annual cropping system that seeks to be sustainable. In this publication we summarize the principal uses and benefits of cover crops and green manures. Brief descriptions and examples are provided for winter cover crops, summer green manures, living mulches, catch crops, and some forage crops. To impart a sense of the importance of these practices in sustainable farming, we summarize the effect of cover crops and green manures on: organic matter and soil structure, nitrogen production, soil microbial activity, nutrient enhancement, rooting action, weed suppression, and soil and water conservation. Management issues addressed include vegetation management, limitations of cover crops, use in crop rotations, use in pest management, and economics of cover crops. A selection of print and Web resources are provided for further reading. Cover Crops and Green Manures by ATTRA

Improve Your Soil with Cover Crops

Cover crops help to retain the soil, lessen erosion, and decrease the impact of precipitation on the garden by slowing the runoff of water. They also reduce mineral leaching and compaction, and suppress perennial and winter annual weed growth. The top growth adds organic matter when it is tilled into the garden soil. The cover crop's root system also provides organic matter and opens passageways that help improve air and water movement in the soil. This resource provides a chart with an overview of cover crops including;Vigor of Germination and Establishment, Seed cost to plant per 1000 square foot, time of planting, over-winter ability, growth amount, ease of incorporation, soil structure improvement, and application rate in ounce per 100 square foot. Cover Crops from Cornell University

Nitrogen Footprint Calculator

The human use of nitrogen through agriculture, energy use, and resource consumption has profound beneficial and detrimental impacts on all people. The chart will initially show the average footprint of a person from the country you selected, but as you answer the different N-Calculator questions, it will change to reflect your answers. [University of Virginia, 2011] Calculator

Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping: Soil Resiliency and Health on the Organic Farm

Covers: Historical roots of cover-crop techniques; Thinking beyond this season�s cash crop (disease and pest reduction, weed suppression, cash vs. cover crops); What is a good rotation? (mapping the farm, grouping crops, sample groupings); The economics of rotations and cover cropping (organizing your work, reducing labor inputs, land and cover-crop seed costs) Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping: Soil Resiliency and Health on the Organic Farm

Using Cover Crops to Suppress Weeds in Northeast US Farming systems

Cover crops provide important benefits to Northeast croplands, including soil and water conservation. Some growers are also finding that cover crops can help reduce weed problems. Which covers are most suitable and how should they be managed to enhance weed suppression? Cover Crops and weeds

Cover Crops for Disease Suppression

Alex Stone of Oregon State University gives an overview of the research on the use of cover crops in vegetable cropping systems to suppress soil borne fungal diseases. Watch the archived webinar here

The Role of Cover Crops in Organic Transition Strategies

The transition to organic certification can take different paths. In this webinar, the relative value and benefits of cover cropping during the transition to organic vegetable production will be discussed. Role of Cover Crops

Using Winter Killed Cover Crops to Facilitate Organic No-till Planting of Early Spring Vegetables

Using weed suppressing, winter killed cover crops is one potential way to eliminate spring tillage in an organic vegetable production system. The presenters will discuss the challenges and successes of eliminating spring tillage on a small-scale vegetable farm in southern Maryland. Cover crop species, planting equipment, and crop rotations tested on the farm will be discussed. Archived Webinar