- Reduced erosion: Cereal rye provides protection on bare fields to minimizing soil loss during the off-season.
- Organic matter: Cereal rye can produce up to 10,000 pounds of biomass per acre.
- Weed and pest suppressor: It is very effective against small-seeded annual weeds, due to its high biomass.
- Nutrient increase: When planted early, oats take up excess nitrogen and phosphorous in the soil.
- Weed suppressor: Due to quick germination, oats smother weeds before they are able to spread.
- Organic matter: When managed correctly, oats can produce 2,000-4,000 pounds of biomass.
- Nutrient increase: Turnips grow very fast, which helps them scavenge high amounts of nitrogen.
- Weed suppressor: The decomposing residue suppresses weeds until the spring.
- Reduced erosion: Radishes are usually killed in the winter, which leaves a layer of decomposing material, providing erosion control.
- Nutrient increase: With the ability to grow more than three feet deep in just 60 days, tillage radish is great for scavenging residual nitrogen.
- Weed suppressor: Because it grows rapidly, tillage radishes eliminate nearly all weed growth by smothering weeds before they surface.
- Soil compaction: Due to the strong, deep roots, can reduce the effects of soil compaction by penetrating different layers of the soil.
- Reduced erosion: White clover’s tough stems and dense, shallow root mass not only suppresses weeds but stops erosion as well.
- Nutrient increase: White clover can produce high amounts of nitrogen while providing it to growing crops.
- Value-added forage: Clover is digestible, allowing cattle to graze after harvest.
- Reduced erosion: Ryegrass has an extensive root system and can even withstand some flooding.
- Nutrient increase: It collects leftover nitrogen, reducing nitrate leaching over winter.
- Weed suppressor: Ryegrass establishes roots quickly, killing early-season weeds.
- Quick transition: When farmers switch to a no-till operation, it can take years for soil properties to adapt. Ryegrass has the ability to cut the transition time significantly.
7. Winter Wheat
Winter wheat is commonly grown as a cash crop; recently, doubled as a cover crop. Lower seed costs and ease of management come springtime has helped it gain popularity. Ideally, a wheat cover crop is grown in no-till or reduced-tillage systems.
Benefits of wheat include:
- Reduced erosion: Winter wheat serves as a winter cover crop that has enough biomass to protect the soil.
- Nutrient increase: Winter wheat gathers high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
- Weed suppressor: Due to its rapid growth, winter wheat helps suffocate germinating weeds.
(Source – http://unitedsoybean.org/article/7-cover-crops-you-should-know/)