With the cooler weather, early morning frosts and even colder weather heading our way in the not too far future, you might be wondering while among all the combines, hay balers, grain trucks and other signs of fall harvest there seem to be a few farmers out there planting things?! Are they confused? No, they are simply planting cover crops!
Cover crops are planted and grown in an effort to:
-Prevent Soil Erosion
-Maintain Soil Fertility
-Maintain Soil Quality
-Prevent and Manage Plant Pests/Diseases
-Protect Water Quality
Cover crops are planted in the fall, as a sustainable agriculture practice, to prevent bare soil from going into the winter. Bare soil can easily be eroded away. Planted cover crops not only hold the soil in place but also keep the soil fertilize and in good condition throughout the winter. Cover crops can also ‘out-compete’ or outgrow weeds in the spring which decreases the amount of herbicides used.
Common cover crops in our area included cereal grains, legumes and forage radishes:
-Cereal Grains: wheat, spelt, rye, barley, triticale, spring oats, canola
-Legumes: crimson clover, australian winter peas, hairy vetch
Some cover crops such as wheat and spring oats are then harvested later in the growing season to be consumed by humans or animals.