Saturday, December 13, 2014

Improve Your Soil With Radish

We've talked at great length about cover crops on this blog, especially radishes.  This article and video reminded me of the great topic of radish.

Over the past decade, radishes have been redefined; once known almost exclusively as a pungent vegetable, radishes have recently gained recognition for their cover cropping potential. After reading this article, you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether cover crop radishes are worth a try on your farm.

Radishes have made rapid inroads as a cover crop for several reasons. First, the radish phenotype is well suited to perform many valuable cover crop functions—provide soil cover, scavenge nutrients, suppress weeds, and alleviate compaction—while creating few of the residue management challenges associated with many other cover crops.

Second, recent research including many on-farm trials has documented beneficial effects of radish cover crops on soil properties and subsequent crops. Third, the seed industry has ramped up production of radish seed, brought new branded products to market, and promoted radish as a cover crop. Fourth—but perhaps most important in terms of the exponential growth in interest by farmers—radish cover crops have become a hot topic of discussion in rural coffee shops and on-line agricultural forums. Between 10/1/2011 and 12/1/2011, there were 51 threads about radishes in the Crop Talk forum of New Ag Talk, with over 500 responses and more than 240,000 views.

Radish have been one of the fastest adopted ideas I've seen in my lifetime.  There must be good reason for so many to try them and keep planting them.  When an old friend even plants them on his alfalfa hay farm, you know their characteristics must have spurred some interest.

We've been blessed to travel around the world to see radish seed production and meet the producers.  We haven't made a one of them rich but we have made their industry viable just like they are improving our crop production and soil health.

When I planted garden radishes as a child I never would have dreamed that plant family would have turned into something like this!



  1. You ought to be able to buy radish seed at a good discount next year. Record setting production, warehouses full of seed and nobody is getting paid! As for a discount.

  2. I wondered how fast that would happen...