What are Cover Crops?
A cover crop’s definition is broad.
Otherwise known as “green manure”, cover crops are plants that are selected to provide some kind of enrichment or protection to the soil. As soil concerns vary from farm to farm, cover crops are selected and customised accordingly – often ticking more than one box.
With higher production efficiencies, the preservation of healthy soils has become a necessity more than a choice. Sustainable soil management practices, such as using cover crops, becomes a tool used throughout the farming cycle. The effective use of these crops allows farmers to improve the yields of their cash crops over the long term.
In addition to soil health, cover crops offer farmers a solution to other farming concerns. Examples of these include decreasing the effects of wind and rainfall erosion, suppressing weeds, attracting beneficial insects, or increasing water infiltration and retention. The list is endless.
Cover crops need to “work” for you and fit into your management practices. Although you may have selected to plant a crop specifically to suppress harmful nematodes, this isn’t to say that you cannot graze your cattle on this crop during the winter. In this instance, making use of the correct grazing method allows you to achieve two objectives. Manage your cover crops to meet your requirements.
The key to the effective use of cover crops is the correct identification of your soil and broader farming concerns. Once the objectives have been identified, selecting an appropriate plant species (or mix thereof) becomes a simple task.
What does Cover Cropping do?
- It can reduce fertiliser use or be viewed as
“Bonus Fertiliser Application”
- Reduce the need for Herbicides Cover crops tend to
reduce weed pressure, disease, insects and nematodes.
- Improve Yield by enhanced Soil Health
- Prevention of Soil Erosion
- Increased Organic Matter
- Conservation of Soil Moisture
- Protection of Water Quality
Reasons for cover cropping
- Soil Properties
- Soil Nutrients
- Soil Toxicity
- Pest management