catchy phrase for cover crops at a Soil and Water display yesterday. It's called discover the cover and yes we are discovering!
Cover crops are the hottest thing to hit the countryside since we started no-tilling. It makes sense to me as "soil was meant to be covered" and "tillage is a catastrophic event in nature."
"Cover crops can be an integral part of a cropping system. Cover crops can be managed to improve soil health, as they help to develop an environment that sustains and nourishes plants, soil microbes and beneficial insects.
Cover crops are typically planted in late summer or fall around harvest and before spring planting of the following year’s crops. Examples of cover crops include rye, wheat, oats, clovers and other legumes, turnips, radishes, and triticale. Planting several cover crop species together in a mixture can increase their impact on soil health. Each cover crop provides its own set of benefits, so it’s important to choose the right cover crop mixture to meet management goals."
The "tillage radish" lit the match to light the fire to discover the value of cover crops. New Zealand brought us electric fencing, mob grazing and the tillage radish. The tillage radish does things for the soil I can't describe in one blog. Look back, and you will find many of my blogs on this subject.
I found a big healthy one on the edge of our sweetcorn patch yesterday. We have the best looking garden in years, full of sweet corn and other vegetables with no purchased fertilizer or manure on. Those radishes unlocked a bunch of needed nutrients to feed our crop. It looks like I spread 150 lbs of nitrate on it but I didn't.
Now is prime time to sow radish and other covers. Get a bag and start learning how they work. Sow a field and compare to the non sown fields. Split a field or alternate the passes if you really don't believe. It will make a believer out of you in one year.
I need to discover the benefit of more diversity in the cover crop mix. My friends who have tried cover crops say, "the more the merrier" in a cocktail mix. It's been a challenge to cover crop ever acre I farm for 4 years in a row now. The more radish I plant the better the soil gets. You should see my 50 acre field that has rye and radish 3 years in a row. That heavy rain went in with little runoff.
Discover the cover and discover your soil improving while your pocketbook grows larger.