Benefits of Cover Crops

Benefits of Cover Crops


Benefits of Cover Crops Presented by the University of Missouri College
of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Tim Reinbott: Cover crops died away until
recently when interest became apparent that we needed to help prevent soil erosion. And, not only just the no-till, but we had
to have other means of doing that, so there’s a lot more interest that developed. But then in the last few years, the attention
has shifted even to improving soil health. How can having these cover crops growing improve
the health of the soil? And this is combining the biological, chemical
properties together to improve the physical properties of the soil. And one of the ways that cover crops do this,
is they enhance microbial growth, and as a result they help hold the soil together
as forming aggregate stability, and other physical properties of soil. I like to let the cover crops do their thing
because I want them to be able to fix nitrogen, I want it to have the biomass produced by
the cover crop to help build the soil, not only organic matter, but also to improve the
soil health properties we have been talking about, including soil-water infiltration and
aeration, that’s incredibly important. What we like to do is that we like to plant
the corn or the soybeans directly into the cover crop,
into the standing cover crops. One of the other benefits that cover crops
have given us is at reducing some of our herbicide tolerant weeds, particularly those that come
up in the early spring or in the fall. Now I’m thinking about mare’s tail and
giant ragweed. Both of those weeds, here in central Missouri,
have become real problems because they are glyphosate tolerant. [We are seeing weed suppression with the use
of cover crops.] Having a cover crop on the ground beforehand,
in the fall and in the spring, helps, helps it doesn’t eliminate, but it helps reduce
the competition from those weeds because they provide competition in light,
in blocking out the light penetration so those seeds can’t germinate. And we have shown, especially in a corn and
soybean rotation, that we have less of these problem weeds when
we have a cover crop involved, especially when we have a cereal crop,
such as cereal rye or triticale. Presented by the University of Missouri College
of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Filmed on site at Bradford Research Center. Information provided by Tim Reinbott,
Director of Field Operations. Video by Stephanie Sidoti.

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