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What it is

Crops such as cereal rye, oats and winter wheat are planted to temporarily protect the ground from wind and water erosion and supply living roots to the soil during times when cropland is often not adequately protected.

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How it helps

  • Keeps ground covered to protect it from soil erosion
  • Improves soil health by adding organic matter and biological activity
  • Cover crops, such as tillage radishes, have a taproot that can help improve water infiltration
  • Traps nutrients
  • Can reduce weed competition
  • Provides livestock grazing
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Planning ahead

  • What benefit would you like to get out of the cover crop?
  • What seeding method do you plan to use?
  • How will you plan to terminate a cover crop that overwinters?
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Maintenance

  • Cover crops should be terminated as late as possible to maximize plant growth and residual nutrient accumulation, while allowing sufficient time for the cover crop to decompose, release nutrients, and recharge soil moisture.
  • Do not allow livestock to graze the cover crop below two inches.
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Videos

Crops such as cereal rye, oats, winter wheat and many other species are planted to temporarily protect the ground from wind and water erosion and supply living roots to the soil during times when cropland is often not adequately protected. In conjunction with no-tilling, keeping living roots in the soil as much as possible helps improve soil health by adding organic matter and biological activity.

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