Cover crops

This refers to any crop that is planted to cover the soil and protect it from erosion. Research shows that the most soil erosion in Ontario happens during spring flooding as the ground is thawing so it is important that soil is kept in place by roots of a cover crop or with residue. The most common example is to plant clover after wheat is harvested in early August. The clover will protect the soil, feed beneficial micro-organisms and, because it is a legume, it also helps to build soil nitrogen levels for the next year’s corn crop. Cover crops are terminated through tillage or through using glyphosate in a no-till system. Farmers also can plant into standing crops if they have suitable equipment, or they can plant after harvest if there is enough growing time left in the season. Many farmers find that planting multiple species, including peas, sunflowers, radish, help the soil in various other ways as well, including minimizing weed pressure. Cover crop seed can cost $20-$50 per acre (plus application costs) but farmers say it is well worth the investment in the long-term.

 

8 species mix into wheat stubble                  ryegrass into corn, sown at 4-6 leaf stage and stays as a green blanket after harvestcover crop (mix after wheat)   cover crop (into corn) 2   2015-11-18 05 49 31

 

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