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Farm Green Year Round with Cover Crops

What’s the # 1 way to build your soil?

………….Cover Crops

Your farm should be GREEN all year around. Your ultimate goal should be to have something growing on it 24/7. Every time you are growing a crop you are harvesting the suns energy and translocating it into your soil; in the form of plant residues, plant root sugars, photosynthesis, etc.

  • There is no excuse not have a cover crop in every field/ garden at some point during the year.
  • A cover crop must be viewed with as much importance as the main crop you grow.
  • You wouldn’t plant your tomato crop 1 ½ months late cover crops are no different.
  • So how do you make cover crops fit into your rotation & budget?

Decide what will fit into your program.

Attract beneficial insects: buckwheat, sweet clover, and red clover.

Tolerate wet soils: sweet clover, red clover, annual ryegrass, cereal rye, wheat, and oats.

Tolerate heat and drought: cowpea, hairy vetch, sweet clover, Sorghum Sudan grass, buckwheat, barley, teff.

Cold tolerant: Cereal rye, wheat, spelt, triticale, winter pea, and sweet clover.

Quick forage or can be grazed: oats, forage radishes/ turnips, rye, ryegrass, teff for dry fields, Sorghum Sudan grass, and barley.

Cover crops for organic matter (high C:N): Sorghum Sudan grass, rye, ryegrass, triticale, oats, wheat, spelt, and barley.

Cover crops for nitrogen (low C:N): cowpea, winter pea, red clover, sweet clover, hairy vetch, alfalfa.

Reduce compaction (deep rooted): Sorghum Sudan grass, ryegrass-5-6', tillage radish-3-30', sweet clover-deep taproot, cereal rye and oats-30".

If used properly cover crops will be a great addition to your farm/ garden. The will help build organic matter, mineralize nitrogen in a plant available form, uptake micro-nutrients, reduce erosion, increase water holding capacity, and the list could go on and on.

Questions about the best cover crops for your farm? Email me at Orin@fertrell.com

Orin Moyer
Written by Orin Moyer

Orin is on the agronomy team at Fertrell. Specializing in row crops and larger farming ventures on the soils side, he runs a 50-cow organic dairy farm as well.

About this Blog

The Fertrell Company blog is for farmers, backyard gardeners, and homesteaders alike. Learn from the experts on all things natural and organic for both soil and livestock.

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