Cover crops are crop populations planted to aid in managing overall soil health by promoting soil quality, improving soil fertility, enhancing water retention, and reducing erosion. Cover crops also include the added benefits of managing weeds and pests while protecting water quality. They naturally bring soil nutrients from lower soil level to the surface throughout the growing season without the need to till and increase organic matter in topsoil at the end of the season. Improved soil quality and pest control reduces the need for fertilization and herbicide application.
The benefits of cover crops are cumulative in nature. Improved soil health and increased yields can been seen after only one season and continue to improve with each growing cycle with major benefits showing after three years of use. Cover crops enhance local soil health and also provide increased biodiversity to neighboring ecosystems making them a part of sustainable agriculture techniques.
Every farm’s cover crop needs are different. Choosing the proper cover crop blend depends on the land’s initial soil health and overall growing goals but are also influenced by the farmer’s ecosystem, layout, planting method, and personal preference. Thornton Agriculture offers customized cover crop plans with assistance in planning, planting, and managing your farmlands.