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Future of cover crops: Although beneficial, farmers are often hesitant to use cover crops because of costs, time

Date:
July 13, 2011
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Cover crops can play a vital role in nutrient cycling, organic matter content and soil cover. Self-seeding cover crops may prove to be an efficient and cost-effective way for farmers to utilize cover crop systems.

Comparison of winter cover crop self-seeding following soybean harvest for treatments with different initial cover crop planting rates and mature cover crop seed dispersal methods.
Credit: Jeremy Singer

Winter cover crops are an important component of nutrient cycling, soil cover and organic matter content. Although its benefits are well documented, cover crop use in farming systems is relatively low. Research has shown that time and money are the two primary reasons why farmers are hesitant to adopt the technique. Developing innovative and cost-effective crop cover systems could increase the use of winter cover crops.

A scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and colleagues investigated the potential use of self-seeding winter cereal cover crops. Results from the study were published in the July-August 2011 issue of the Agronomy Journal.

Scientists measured the amount of green groundcover self-seeded winter cover crops produced after soybean harvests in the fall of 2007 and 2008. The study revealed that the cover crop's growth through self-seeding was most consistent using a wheat cover crop and mechanical seed dispersal before the soybean harvest.

"The significance of this research, in addition to lowering the cost and risk of establishing cover crops, is to extend the ecological functions that cover crops perform beyond their normal termination dates," explained Jeremy Singer, a researcher from USDA-ARS.

Organic crop producers can benefit from self-seeding cover crops because of the potential for enhanced weed suppression without disturbing the soil. Cover crops also increase nutrient retention and reduce soil erosion, which can improve water quality.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brock C. Blaser, Jeremy W. Singer, Lance R. Gibson. Winter Cereal Canopy Effect on Cereal and Interseeded Legume Productivity. Agronomy Journal, 2011; 103 (4): 1180 DOI: 10.2134/agronj2010.0506

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Future of cover crops: Although beneficial, farmers are often hesitant to use cover crops because of costs, time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110713121315.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2011, July 13). Future of cover crops: Although beneficial, farmers are often hesitant to use cover crops because of costs, time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110713121315.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Future of cover crops: Although beneficial, farmers are often hesitant to use cover crops because of costs, time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110713121315.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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