Why Do We Use Cover Crops?

February 15, 2023

Soy Beans Crop

For us, we feel cover crops are crucial in building soil health. When you build a soil’s health, there are many other benefits that come along with it. You might ask, how does cover cropping accomplish that? Well, having a plant and its living root system in the soil for organisms to feed on throughout the year helps with soil tilth…

And the root systems aid in

  • increases water infiltration
  • improves soil microbiology
  • protects water quality
  • reduces soil erosion
  • reduces soil compaction
  • recycles nutrients
  • builds organic matter after its life cycle

Not only do the roots help build soil health, but the cover crop plant itself helps suppress weeds and acts as a mulch to help shade the ground and prevent water evaporation. The cover crop plant is also known to protect the environment and provide a habitat for wildlife. So there are lots of factors that play a role in why we plant cover crops.

When we plant cover crops, we see the benefits after just one year sometimes. We notice better soil aggregates, better water infiltration, and less soil runoff after heavy rains – which has been a detriment to our operation in years past. One of the biggest benefits for us is that we can get back out into the fields sooner after a rain. Overall, this practice is tried and true for us. We know it’ll promote better soil health and the longevity of the land we farm.

For more information about cover crops, such as cover species, seeding dates and seeding methods, visit your local USDA Service Center, or visit the Wisconsin NRCS website at www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov.

Written by Tyler Emhoff

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