Triple C Cover Crop Considerations

October 10, 2019

10.10.19 | Triple C Cover Crop Considerations from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

As we move into harvest, it’s time to think about whether we want to protect and improve our soils with a cover crop or not. A cover crop provides the soil protection from soil erosion, adds organic material and provides soil microbial life with a food source for more of the growing season. The first question a grower needs to ask himself, is why do we want to add a cover crop to our cropping system?  There are many potential answers:  1) We need to provide forage or grazing land for our cattle, 2) We have problems with water erosion and want to protect our soil from rainfall impact and soil leaving our fields, or 3) We want to provide soil microbial life a food source through more of the growing season to better cycle crop nutrients.  

The answer to that question will help us decide which cover crops to consider.  Often a grower will plant a mix of cover crop species to provide a little plant diversity for the soil microbial life as well as increased feed value for livestock.  A cover crop mix can also give the planting a better chance of success in case one of the plant types is susceptible to weather issues such as above normal rainfall.

Another consideration is how does this cover crop work within our cropping system. It is often best to put legume cover crops in front of grass cash crops like corn or wheat.  Grass cover crops, such as rye or oats, might work better in front of legume cash crops like soybeans. When you put a grass cover in front of a grass cash crop, you can double up on the nitrogen needs and potentially damage yield in your cash crop by shorting its nitrogen needs.  

Talk to your CVA Field Sales Agronomist for more information to determine whether or not cover crops works on your operation.

Tim Mundorf, CVA Nutrient Management Lead



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Posted: 10/10/2019 2:38:12 PM by Kelli Reznicek | with 0 comments

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