Cover crops are plants that are used to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, suppress weeds, increase biodiversity, and help control pests and disease, generally by covering the field during the off-season. Cover crop rotations can increase crop yields through improved soil health and fertility. Cover crops are a valuable tool for climate resilience by protecting against drought conditions and excessive rainfall.

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Cover Crops

Cover Crops

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

Cover Crops

Location: Harmony Valley Farm
Featuring: Organic Farmer Richard Dewilde and NRCS District Conservationist Sam Skemp

"There's just a lot to learn. Not just about seed, but how to do it organically."
- Richard

Instead of relying on chemicals, organic farmers can work with NCRS to develop systems that use cover crops to build healthy soils.

An essential element of any organic farmer's crop rotation system, cover crops increase soil organic matter, keep the ground covered to slow erosion from wind and water, suppress soil diseases and pests, enhance water availability, smother weeds and provide significant contributions to a farm's biodiversity.

Cover crops (using a mix of grasses, legumes and forbs) can provide benefits for both organic and conventionally managed systems. These include increased nitrogen fixation, minimization and reduction of soil compaction; decrease of particulates escaping into the atmosphere, and in some cases cover crops can even be used to provide livestock with a source of supplemental forage.

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