Cover Crop Resources

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Cover Cropping Definition per Wikipedia: A cover crop is a crop planted primarily to manage soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem (Lu et al. 2000), an ecological system managed and largely shaped by humans across a range of intensities to produce food, feed, or fiber.

Reasons to cover crop:

  • Weed suppression
  • Pest and disease suppression
  • Increasing organic matter
  • Water mitigation
  • Increase fertility
  • Improving water holding capacity
  •  Improving drainage
  •  Mining nutrients and minerals
  •  Breaking up hardpan
  • Reduced erosion
  • Nitrogen fixation
  •  Improve soil biota
  • Improve soil aggregation
  • Attract beneficial insects
  • Grazing opportunities

Important factors to consider when deciding on cover crop:

1. Goal (ie: weed suppression)

2. Time of year

3. Cover Crop Management a. Equipment- mowing or plowing to kill b. When it will need to be killed and incorporated for the following crop

4. Cost

Math: Area to be cover cropped / 43,560 sq. ft. in an acre = % of an acre you are cover cropping
Lb. of cover crop suggested for an acre X % of an acre you are cover cropping = Lb. of seed needed

Resources:
Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition, beginning on page 66 there are some very helpful charts giving the benefits of many types of cover crops. All SARE books are available for FREE download.
http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Managing-Cover-Crops-Profitably-3rd-Edition

Cornell Cover Crop Guide
http://www.hort.cornell.edu/bjorkman/lab/covercrops/

Cornell Cover Crop Decision Tool

http://www.hort.cornell.edu/bjorkman/lab/covercrops/decision-tool.php

Rodale Institute
Video from Rodale using a roller crimper, a tool used to turn cover crop into mulch for no till planting

http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/getting_started_with_cover_crops