Cover cropping is one of the most versatile and effective methods to help keep your crops in check! But it doesn’t stop there–cover-cropping has many benefits, like improving crop yield, promoting soil health, and aiding in crop selection management. Want to know all about it? Keep on reading to learn about all the fantastic advantages of cover-cropping!
The Benefits of Growing Cover Crops
What is a Cover Crop?
Cover crops are non-commodity crops that can help manage natural resources on farms, such as soil and water. On the other hand, commodity crops are usually grown for sale in the market to gain profit. In many cases, cover crops also have the potential to become commodity crops. Still, due to the seasonal restrictions on planting dates of the commodity in particular regions of the country, it is more practical not to harvest them for sale.
How Do Cover Crops Help Keep Farms Fertile?
Cover crops are an effective way to keep the land fertile by limiting soil erosion and managing over-fertilization into streams, rivers, bays, and other bodies of water to help keep them clean for aquatic life. It can also fight off weeds by blocking light from hitting the ground and releasing natural chemicals into the soil to keep it free of pests before harvesting your Crop.
History of Non-Commodity Crops
It is important to remember that all non-commodity crops that have now become used for conservation on farms were once used for everyday food for people. But thanks to modern technological advances like food transportation methods, it is no longer necessary for people in America at least to eat non-commodity all year round to survive – it can now be found at any time, no matter where you live.
However, it is still an ongoing problem in many other countries all over the world where having enough food to live off of all year round is no small feat, so eradicating non-commodity all over won’t do those people any good for sure.
The Benefits of Cover Crops: How to Maximize Yield and Production
Cover crops help to reduce the amount of soil erosion by keeping the soil in place. Erosion can significantly affect food production in regions of the country where it is severe. So by planting cover crops, you can help keep your soil from washing away into rivers and streams while also increasing its organic matter content, which is suitable for all plants.
Soil Organic Matter
Using cover crops can help improve the structure of your soil over time by increasing the amount of organic matter in it. Organic matter is essential for maintaining healthy soils and providing optimum growing conditions for plants. It helps to keep soils fertile, hold moisture, increase microbial life, and buffer against pH changes that can adversely affect plant development.
Cover crops also play a role in improving the structure of soils over time. Plant s roots help to build up aggregates in soils, loosen compacted layers and break through hard layers of clay-like soils – all of which help keep water in place for a longer period to give plants more access to it for optimal growth.
Cover crops help keep weeds at bay by competing for light, moisture, and nutrients, and they also contain certain chemicals in their root systems that release chemical compounds toxic to some weeds. This can help keep weeds at bay naturally, reducing off-farm inputs of herbicides needed to keep them at bay in no-till systems.
One of the main benefits of growing cover crops is their ability to cycle nutrients into the soil, which can help reduce off-farm inputs like fertilizers used in food production systems over the long term. Cover crops are also known to increase yields in subsequent food crops thanks to their ability to bring about improved nutrient use efficiency from whatever is put into the system from outside sources or through natural processes like decomposition within it over time.
Cover Crops: A Smart Investment for the Long-Term
The Endless Benefits of Well-Managed Pastures
There is no better long-term investment than a well-managed pasture. Undeniably, it can pay for itself in animal production, off-farm income, wildlife habitat, forage for livestock in drought years, reduced machinery and labor requirements, soil protection, and water conservation. But to get all these returns, it is essential to put in sweat equity at the right place and at the right time to keep your pastures in good condition. Transforming a pasture from bad to good can take just a few years of conscientious management!
Rotational Grazing Requires Planning
Rotational grazing is also key to getting the best use of forage. Still, it also requires careful planning before animals can be put on pasture. You have to ask yourself numerous questions, like what forage plants are growing?
How much of it is in which condition? Have animals grazed on it in a while? Does it need to be fertilized to help recover it after grazing? Are all forages of similar quality so all of them can be eaten by the same kind of animals at once, or do different forages have to be managed separately by other kinds of animals? Are all forages at the same growth stage, or do they need more time to grow up before use?
Do all forages need to be eaten before moving on, or can some grow back faster? Need to check if there are any toxic plants before turning over animals into paddocks? Is there enough food for all on-pasture animals at that moment; should hay provide some extra nourishment then or bring in more animals or let go of others to use up available parsley on the ground right away before it gets too over matured to use up anymore as fodder etc.
Dealing with Natural and Man-made Challenges
Okay, let’s get real about these natural challenges, like droughts and floods. It’s like they’re out to get us, am I right? But we can’t let them win! No way, Jose. We gotta protect that forage like it’s our firstborn child.
And don’t forget about those hungry predators and frostbites! They’re not messing around, and they can cause some serious damage. We need to make sure our animals stay healthy and injury-free, or we’ll be up to our eyeballs in vet bills.
Now, let’s talk about the artificial stuff. We can’t neglect the fences around the old ones – we don’t want any breakouts, do we? And when it comes to equipment, we need to keep it in tip-top shape. But hey, if it’s still working, why fix it? Unless, of course, there are some regulations we need to follow.
We all want to have a good time, right? Nobody likes to deal with all these challenges, but we must do what we must. If we put in the hard work, we’ll see the good days rollin’ in like a wave on a hot summer day. And that’s something to look forward to, my friend.
The Need for Good Soil
Good soil is essential for having productive fields and gardens. It is possible to use cover crops to keep them in good health. Cover crops are non-cash crops planted in empty fields to help improve the soil after harvest.
What is Litter?
Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to fuel the process of making their own food, which then releases oxygen as a byproduct. Some of this decomposing plant material on the ground is referred to as litter and contains carbon-rich organic matter.
This adds to the soil’s organic matter, helping it act like a sponge absorbing water and letting out enough for plants to use in growth. Plus, it releases nutrients for growing plants to use over time.
Using Cover Crops in Empty Fields
If no crop is in a field at any time, there is no natural litter to keep up soil health. To get these same benefits, farmers have been known to plant cover crops in empty fields for over 100 years, mainly to keep weeds away and avoid soil erosion through wind or water. Examples of such leguminous cover crops can help fix nitrogen in the soil by having bacteria on its roots that convert nitrogen gas into usable form by plants before death release it into the ground for other plants use.
Environmental Effects of Litter
In nature, it can take up to 100 years for all of this natural litter out in the open to break down fully and release greenhouse gases into the air through decaying processes along the way. Thus, one of the most effective ways we have right now to fight climate change is keeping this natural litter in our soils using sustainable options like cover crop planting!
Using Cover Crops to Maximize Ecosystem Benefits
Soil Erosion Control and Improved Soil Health
Cover crops play an integral role in protecting the soil from erosion, adding to its organic matter content, improving its water-holding capacity for nutrients, and providing food for beneficial insects. Also, by creating root biomass in all farming systems, cover crops help break up hard-packed soil to allow for better crop root growth.
Weed Control and Suppression
Regularly-planted cover crops have been demonstrated to have sound weed-suppressing effects by shading the soil’s surface with their dense stands of vegetation. This is especially useful in no-till systems to ward off annual weeds before they have a chance to germinate. Popularly-utilized species like cereal rye, wheat, barley, triticale, and oilseed radish have successfully reduced weed spread. But it is essential to terminate the cover crop before it sets seed to avoid subsequent issues in our next cash crop.
Pest Management through Beneficial Insect Attraction
In addition to serving a weed control function for us farmers, cover crops can also attract pesky clear-out parasites by attracting beneficial insects like honey bees and other pollinators through nectar-rich species like sunflowers.
Improved Crop Yields, mainly through Organic Matter Increase
Cover crops on depleted fields can help replenish soil fertility by increasing organic matter through practical nutrient cycling into usable forms for plants. This eventually helps stimulate better drainage of poorly-drained soils through improved pore spacing, also full of nutrients for plant roots—ultimately resulting in greater crop yields down the line!
Legumes for a Sustainable Future: The Benefits of Cover Crops
Cover crops can play an essential role in improving soil fertility over time. Still, it cannot be easy to find varieties that keep on going for two or more seasons in various climates. Fortunately, some species have natural tendencies to reseed themselves before winter sets in, making it an easy no-till way to get multiple years of use out of them.
Self-reseeding Species for Biennial Use
Avena sativa is an annual or biennial grass that is non-invasive and fast-growing. It is also known by its cultivar name, Planet (see the Named Cultivars section for further information about this). Beta vulgar is a biennial that is better known for its roots but also makes a good cover crop thanks to its big leaves and pest-repelling foliage. Although these plants need to be controlled in the spring, so they do not over-compete with the garden’s future plants, it is beneficial to let some of them go to seed later in the summer so they can reseed in subsequent years.
Chenopodium album is also known as lamb’s quarters or spinach goosefoot—a common weed in North America. Still, it is also edible and beneficial as a cover crop due to its rapid growth and wide leaves that can tolerate light shade.
Plants start to bolt up in hot summer temperatures. Still, by then, it has already produced plenty of foliage to protect the soil, plus seeds for upcoming years. To help keep the cycle going for future generations, it can help to give it assistance by chopping back old foliage before winter sets in.
Lolium perenne, also known as perennial ryegrass, has good reseeding tendencies in many areas of the country once allowed to come back in subsequent years but needs thinning out once it starts becoming too thick for other plants room to grow (see Named Cultivars section for more info on this variety).
Phalaris arundinacea, also known by its cultivar name of reed canary grass, usually reseeds readily in many parts of the continent, but like perennial ryegrass, needs thinning out once it gets old so other plants have space!
Vicia sativa, also commonly referred to as annual vetch, tends to live for two seasons, although it can get killed off by winter when colder; the good news is that it behaves better in spring than common vetch and doesn’t have deep roots like other nitrogen-fixing legumes meaning it’s easier to get rid of when necessary (see Nitrogen-Fixing Legumes chapter 9 section for all types of info on these types of legumes including tips on controlling their sometimes-challenging traits).
Gaining Ground with Non-Legume Cover Crops: Exploring Benefits Beyond the Legume
Cover cropping in gardens can have big benefits for the soil. Still, choosing the right non-leguminous cover crops is essential to get all the advantages! Let’s look at a few of them to see what they can do for your garden’s health.
Cereal rye is an allelopathic plant that produces natural chemicals through its leaves and roots that can harm other plants. However, it mainly affects seed germination of only certain species, so it is pretty good for most of us! It can also help suppress weeds by competing for light, water, and nutrients before it dies off. For it to have maximum effectiveness, it should be at least 4 to 6 inches tall before dying off. To get it to that point of growth, you need to start planting in the fall for optimal establishment before all weeds start sprouting up!
Not only does cereal rye help keep out bad plants like weeds but also bad critters like bugs! All of these can hurt your other plants by depriving them of resources like light, nutrients, and water- but when covered by cereal rye, they are restricted in their movements. But once cereal rye has done its job in one season, it is good practice to till it into your soil for up to three years before needing to rotate out! All of this breakdown over those three years will help protect all new what-to-be plants by giving them lots of air and nutrients and keeping out all of those pesky critters!
It might seem strange at first, but mustard greens can help break up tough soil by bringing up good microbial life with it from deep down! Also, if you have an issue with nematodes- microscopic pests that live primarily in poor soils- mustard greens can help fight off these small critters by producing compounds called glucosinolates which help keep those away for good! They also help give off small amounts of nitrogen into the soil, good for early spring or fall planted vegetables once tilled under or mulched over.
So, let’s talk about Clover. It’s known as a legume, and let’s face it, no cover crop list is complete without mentioning it. But it’s not just some ordinary crop – Clover has some incredible benefits that we need to acknowledge!
Firstly, it’s excellent for improving soil fertility in damaged land. With its small root systems, it can penetrate tight soils and extract crucial minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, ensuring that all parts of the soil around those intricate taproots get the nutrients they need.
Secondly, Clover is a real helper when it comes to weed suppression. It acts as a living mulch, keeping all those lousy weeds at bay, and also creates relationships between larger shrubs and tree roots, which distill sugars down into smaller bits that different critters can eat up. And the best part? It leaves all the good stuff undamaged!
All in all, Clover has some significant benefits, and no matter what cover crop situation you’re looking at, I think it deserves a good ol’ mention. You’ll find it on practically every list out there today on pretty much every topic, so there’s no avoiding it. But hey, that’s not a bad thing – Clover is an excellent helper number two that we should be thankful for!
What is a ‘Cover Crop Cocktail’?
You may have heard of ‘cover crop cocktails’: it’s a term that has been used to describe using up to seven or ten species of plants in one field! But not all of us want to go down that road- too much of a good thing can ruin it! Just like if you put bad drinks together at a party- no one would want to drink them!
In the natural world, it is also essential to get the right combinations of plants- they need to be compatible in terms of their root systems, light/heat needs, and nutrient needs. All of these things help the plants get along. For example, if all your crop roots were in the top half-inch of soil and it rained for days, your whole field could be washed away! So when looking for cover crops, choosing species that play well together is essential!
Creating a Healthy Field
On our farm, we’ve experimented with up to six species for production fields, including annual ryegrass, oats, field peas, forage radish, crimson Clover and hairy vetch. This gives us all of the benefits of having diverse cover crops but also ensures that in different parts at different times in the season – spring (peas & oats growing), summer (ryegrass & peas and forage radish and vetch), or fall (same as before plus Clover)- all are seen vigorous in growth- no empty patches or weed proliferation- but also no chance of overharvesting nutrients by all rooting at once!
This all looks like an endless prairie once everything starts to come through- it is beautiful in its complexity. It can keep our land from getting eroded by overharvesting by bad choices in planting mixture. It takes some time, but once it is right- there is no sight like it!
The Benefits of Incorporating Crop Rotations into Organic Gardening
What is Crop Rotation?
Crop rotation is an essential part of organic gardening. It involves planting vegetables in different spots in your garden from year to year to give them a break and reduce their risk of attack by insects and diseases. Switching up the look of your vegetable garden over time can help keep it healthy in the long run.
The Need for Diversity
Crop rotation also encourages diversity in your garden by preventing pests from finding the same plants in the same place every year. To keep it simple, avoid planting the same vegetables in the same spot two years in a row!
Also, remember that members of the same plant family- like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and squash- have similar pest and disease issues, so they must be rotated too. The same can be said for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi- all of which have common health risks that need to be considered when rotating crops.
For onions and garlic specifically- try to avoid putting them in the same spot for at least three years in a row. Instead, try planting non-Alliums (the scientific name for onions and garlic) in its place over this period. A good idea to help keep track of this is to start by keeping a map of your garden!
The Benefits of Cover Cropping for No-Till Farming
When to Plant Cover Crops in No-Till
Cover crops are generally planted to improve soil quality after harvesting cash crops. A good rule of thumb for no-till farmers is to plant cover crops right after harvesting their main Crop; for example, once the corn is harvested, it can be tilled up and immediately replaced with a cover crop.
Purpose of Use for No-Till Farming
Farmers use no-till farming to reduce soil erosion on their fields by leaving previous crops in situ and to help reduce the number of herbicides and pesticides needed by providing natural weed suppression and creating habitats for beneficial insects like pollinators to live in. This also helps keep pests at bay by introducing predation pressure through natural biological forces like competition for resources.
When it comes to no-till farming, cover crops play an important role in keeping the soil healthy by providing natural nutrients it can use during off-seasons and reducing runoff into nearby waterways by holding onto excess nutrients in their root systems before they can wash away into streams or rivers.
Types of Cover Crops For No-Till
When deciding which cover crop is best for no-till, farmers have a few options. Some popular choices include cereal rye, winter wheat, and annual ryegrass.
Cereal rye is one of the most popular down to its quick-growing speed and cold weather hardiness for use in fall months before snowfall or freezing temperatures set in. Winter wheat is another viable option with its ability to provide natural nitrogen to the soil for use by cash crops during the growing period. Lastly, annual ryegrass is another good choice for no-till. It germinates quickly after being put into the ground in autumnal months before heavy snowfall can stop it from thriving over winter.
Benefits of Using Cover Crops for No-Till
Using cover crops in no-till farming offers several benefits both on-farm and at a wider scale through environmental conservation:
- It helps keep the soil healthy by giving it access to extra nutrients over off periods;
- Reduces runoff into nearby waterways
- helps suppress weeds by competing with them over light, water, and other resources while also reducing the need for herbicides
- Creates habitats friendly environments where beneficial insects like pollinators can live, likewise putting up predation pressure on pests through natural competition over the use of objectives like food sources
- All this under the reduced need for manual labor to get all these jobs done compared to conventional non-no-till farming systems.
Exploring the Benefits of Cover Crops for No-Till Farming
Cover crops are non-cash crops grown to keep soil in place by preventing it from blowing away or washing off in storms. Popular cover crops for no-till farming include oilseed radishes, winter rye, crimson Clover, berseem Clover, hairy vetch, buckwheat, common vetch, oats, and annual ryegrass.
Weed Suppression Benefits of Cover Cropping
Cover cropping can help with weed suppression by out-competing them before they get established in your garden, thanks to the rapid growth of its plants. Furthermore, many cover crops give off natural herbicides through their roots to destroy unwanted weeds.
Organic Matter Added to Soil & Attracting Beneficial Insects
Adding to the benefits of no-till farming is the organic matter it adds to the soil once it is tilled back in. Also helps out that it can attract beneficial insects like earthworms for use in gardening projects.
Using a Tool for Getting Cover Crop Started
A no-till planter can help get your cover crop started, but after it is up and running, be sure to use hand-pulling or hoeing methods into the ground; for best results, try using a rototiller. Most of these plants are good for at least several years once they have been appropriately established.
So once all of your summer and fall veggies have been cleared out, go ahead and put down some cover crops to prepare your soil for next spring! Additionally, it can help prevent compaction over the winter when snow is on top of all of it due to excessive rain in the autumn months.
Exploring the Benefits of Cover Crops for Organic Farms
Organic farming is all about sustainability, and cover crops are at the heart of it. Cover crops benefit organic farms by adding nutrients to the soil, controlling pests and weeds, preventing soil erosion over winter, and improving overall soil health. Let’s look at two non-legume cover crops—buckwheat and millet—and their roles on organic farms!
The Ease of Buckwheat on Your Farm
Buckwheat is not related to wheat but is still a valuable summer cover crop for your farm! It can take three weeks to get up to a flowering size that suppresses weeds during first-time use in young farms. But an added benefit of buckwheat is its aesthetic appeal, thanks to the big white flowers! After it is killed off by frost in the fall, it also breaks down quickly in spring once it hits your soil. But bear in mind that it has to be planted in really good-drained soils as it doesn’t take well to dampness.
Using Millet to Put Nitrogen into Soil
Millet is another non-legume cover crop to try out on your farm! Not only does it help put nitrogen into the soil for other subsequent crops but like buckwheat, it can proliferate over summer into fall before frost finally takes over.
Also, like buckwheat, it also creates natural barriers between nasty bugs and other crops thanks to its broad leaves. And once in the ground for long enough for frost to hit, it will break down nicely over time in the springtime into your soil. Keep in mind, however, that you need all seeds planted at the same depth to avoid problems with either them not emerging or all emerging at once!
Using Cover Crops for Sustainable Soil and Fertility Management
Modern agriculture is about striking a balance to ensure a steady, adequate supply of nutrients for plant growth while protecting the environment from potential detriment. Unfortunately, over-applying fertilizers, improper use of pesticides, inadequate irrigation systems, and non-agricultural land use can all have deleterious effects on soil quality. But fortunately for us all, cover crops can help to keep soils healthy and fertile in addition to providing numerous other benefits like weed control and prevention of erosion.
What are Cover Crops?
Cover crops consist mainly of grasses like ryegrass and oats, legumes like Clover and vetch, and broadleaf plants like mustards and buckwheat. Varieties naturally depend on local climate, soil makeup, and what the farmer hopes to gain through their use.
For instance, if they want to enhance water-holding capabilities in the soil, they can choose but choose Sorghum-sudangrass, which has deep roots that help break up any compacted areas in the soil. Whereas agriculture needs nitrogen in their ground and can look into leguminous cover crops like Clover, which also helps keep weeds away and provides forage for livestock.
How can I set up my own Cover Crops?
There’s no need to worry about planting cover crops! You can do it in a variety of ways depending on your equipment at hand or the resources you have at your disposal—from simply broadcasting it over the surface of the soil to drilling it into the ground or by using no-till planters to get through with it once it is established it is essential to take care of it properly by either mowing it down before it begins seeding out or grazing on it to provide more space for livestock feed!
The Benefits of Utilizing Cover Crops
Cover crops help protect against erosion in favor of keeping soils healthy and add organic matter, which helps keep fertility up! They play an integral role in controlling weed infestations by densely populating fields with tough competition.
They also give off food-like nectar sources to friendly insects that control pest populations! For example, leguminous cover crops have good relations with certain species of air-borne bacteria (namely Rhizobium) thanks to root nodules as this partnership between the two is beneficial for both, i.e., Rhizobium gets shelter in these nodes & cover Crop get free nitrogen from them!
Harnessing the Power of Cover Crops for Climate Resilience and Water Conservation
Cover crops are non-cash crops grown to improve the soil. They play an essential role in managing erosion, controlling weeds, cycling nutrients into the earth, deterring pests, providing habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife, and helping fight climate change by trapping carbon in the soil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
How Do Cover Crops Help Combat Climate Change?
Healthy soils can better absorb water once it rains, which can help lower runoff. Additionally, they reduce the compression of the ground to let rain seep into the earth instead of simply running off on the surface. Their deep-reaching root systems also help keep all that natural goodness in check directly in your garden! All these small components ultimately help keep more water in check on our land while also distracting contamination from ending up in local waterways like creeks and bays.
What’s the Deal with Water Anyway?
As it stands, climate scientists tell us our region is about to heat up sooner than expected. All of us who live here need to take advantage of all this area has to offer by efficiently using all of our water for everyday use no matter what patterns end up showing in the rain over some time. Using cover crops to keep necessary moisture in our gardens for our plants to use as needed can also help reduce the risk of it just evaporating off into thin air! Even more, so is keeping runoff free of contaminants away from nearby creeks or rivers!
In Need of Some Help Getting Started on an Eco-Friendly Garden? Look No Further!
Plenty of organizations have already put together great feasible plans for you to begin your own “climate-smart” garden! The best part about it is that it keeps all of our sources of H20 – whether it be land or pipe setup – in check all at once! Check out these noteworthy places below to get started on your very own getaway:
- Marin Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Falkirk in San Rafael
- Cool Weather Edible Garden in Richmond through Urban Sprouts
- Water-wise Demonstration Garden at Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross
Using Cover Crops to Manage Pests and Increase Soil Health
Farmers rely on cover crops to keep their soil healthy all year round. But these non-edible crops have many other benefits for farmers and the environment. Let’s look at how cover crops can help manage pests and increase soil health to benefit everyone!
What Are Cover Crops?
Cover crops are grown after the main Crop has been harvested to improve soil quality in the off-season. They help protect against erosion, runoff, and toxins leaching into nearby waterways. They also add organic matter to help retain moisture in the soil for better spring drainage, structure, and airflow. These non-edible plants help keep the soil healthy and give food and shelter to beneficial insects and wildlife.
The Different Types of Cover Crops
Cover crops come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and species to fit different climates, terrains, and needs of farmers worldwide. A single species of cover crop is called a monoculture. In contrast, a mixture of at least two different species is called a polyculture.
Polycultures can provide greater diversity in soil organisms, which can help reduce pest problems by making it much harder for one species to outgrow all others. Some common cover crop species in North Carolina include cereal rye, oats, annual ryegrass, crimson Clover, berseem Clover, hairy vetch, red Clover, sweet Clover, buckwheat, and sorghum-sudangrass.
Scheduling for Soil Health
The timing of cover crop planting is an essential factor for keeping soil health in top form – it should be planned so it does not compete with sunlight, water, or nutrient-rich main crops for growth once planted. For perennial plantings like strawberries or blueberries, choosing the right kind of hardy polycultures at good timing will help ward off weeds by protecting the soil from light enabling germination in off-seasons. Altogether, this helps give maximum yields once the harvesting period is ready!
Get The Right Help
Different kinds of cover crops need different conditions for other regions at particular times in years- doing research about what is needed can be challenging, but fortunately, there are free informational websites like most Farmer’s Extension services have sites with lots of useful information on techniques that have been tried out by experienced farmers! Check them out!
Unlocking the Hidden Benefits of Cover Crops: Harnessing Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Farming
Using Cover Crops to Help Recycle Nitrogen
When raising livestock, it’s no surprise that manure is often in the discussion. But many people might need to realize just how essential it is for keeping our soil healthy by providing natural fertilizer for growing crops. A healthy soil-nutrient cycle requires animal waste to break down and be returned to the soil for all of us to have food to eat. Unfortunately, this can be challenging in reality.
Conditions like overgrazed land and dry weather can cause manure to build up in dirty, smelly lagoons rather than break down into good rich soil where it is so desperately needed. And worse yet, all of that non-decomposed animal waste can end up in streams and bays when it rains heavily, sickening all of the wildlife that calls those places home.
Nature’s Solution for Keeping Soil Healthy
So how can farmers help get this nitrogen-rich fertilizer back into their grounds? By understanding the science behind it all! All of this non-decomposed animal waste on pastures only needs to be buried back into the ground to break down into rich soil without it having a chance to get into anyone’s backyard or end up in nearby bodies of water. This can be done through cover crops – plants with deep root systems that can grab onto all of that non-decomposed animal waste at surface level on pastures until it can make its way back into the ground on its own, where it belongs!
The Many Benefits of Cover Crops
Cover crops have many other benefits beyond the harmless retention of manure on pastures before it can decompose naturally; they also play a vital role in increasing organic matter content and reducing erosion caused by wind and water while also improving water infiltration into soils, making them more resistant to drought over time!
Additionally, because cover crops help keep weeds at bay by out-competing them for light and nutrients, farmers can also cut down on herbicides. Cover crops are invaluable to sustainable farmers who want to keep their soils and ecosystems healthy for generations!
Cover crops can help small-scale farmers regain their feet and thrive for many years. It’s no secret that my family benefited from implementing cover crops in our small plot of land. Not only has it improved soil health, but there is also more yield in our crop production by selecting the right Crop for each season, like snow peas for winter! It is worth every effort put into it, as we are all now reaping the rewards through all the advantages of cover crops!