5 Best Cover Crops for Your Farm

5 Best Cover Crops for Your Farm

Cover crops are what you plant in the off-season on your farm. In some cases, you might grow your cover crop in summer, while in others, you’ll want it for the winter. Choose one that will benefit your farm the most, whether you need the best cover crops for corn or soybeans.

Determining which cover crops to plant is simple. There are numerous types to choose from depending on your goals, the season you need to plant them and your location. You might want to have a longer grazing season or better weed control next year – the crop cover you need for these goals is different.

There are even more objectives you might have, too, which will ultimately affect which cover crop you need. These are some beneficial cover crops for small and medium farms.

1. Cereal Rye

Cereal rye is a winter-hardy cover crop, meaning you will have to get rid of it before planting your spring crops. It provides several benefits to the soil’s health:

  • Erosion control
  • Nutrient scavenger
  • Quick growth of biomass
  • Efficient breakup of compaction layers

It’s also drought-resistant, which is beneficial for areas that experience dry winters. You can plant it later than almost any other type of cover crop.

2. Hairy Vetch

You can plant hairy vetch as a cover crop. It is a slow-growing plant, so you will need to plant this one earlier as the off-season approaches. It is a legume well-suited for northern climates. Below are some benefits of hairy vetch:

  • Nitrogen source for soil
  • Weed control
  • Erosion control

3. Crimson Clover

Crimson clover is a valuable cover crop in several climates. It is a cover crop for winter in southern climates, and people in the northern climates can use it as a spring cover crop to prepare the soil for summer.

Below are some of the benefits of crimson clover:

  • Attracts helpful insects and pollinators
  • Adds nitrogen to the soil
  • Controls weeds
  • Helps build soil structure
  • Can be used for grazing
  • Prevents erosion

4. Buckwheat

For a summer cover crop, you can choose buckwheat. It works well in numerous soil types, even if yours is currently “poor.” Buckwheat is a rapidly growing crop and provides several advantages:

  • Suppresses weeds
  • Attracts to useful insects
  • Helps control erosion
  • Gives phosphorous access

5. Oats

Oats establish quickly in spring and fall, and they work well when mixed with other cover crops. They are one of the easiest cover crops to plant and require little maintenance. Some of the benefits of planting oats as a cover crop include the following:

  • Controls erosion
  • Offers grazing options
  • Suppresses weeds
  • Attracts nutrients
  • Helps soil structure

Improve Your Next Harvest With Beneficial Cover Crops

Cover crops help you maximize yield and enhance your soil for the next crop season. No matter where your farm is or what time of year you use cover crops, there’s one out there that can meet your needs.

Choose the best cover crop for your region, season and crops to ensure a better harvest season. If you are looking for sprayers, picking assistants or plastic mulch lifter-wrappers, find your nearest CropCare® dealer today.

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