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Jun 05

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Cover the Eco-Bases With Cover Crops

Farmers put covers on their fields—but not so they can sleep! Cover crops reduce erosion and improve water absorption. Dig in:

Soil basks under the cover of sunflowers and buckwheat (via Ohio State University Extension)

You might think soil could use a rest between growing seasons. But leaving soil bare through winter makes it vulnerable to heavy rain and winds that cause erosion and wash nutrients out of the soil. Enter cover crops, which are grown between seasons to enrich soil and protect water.

James Hoorman of Ohio State University Extension explains, “When you have cover crops, they increase the infiltration rate of the water into the soil.”

He says cover crops prevent runoff that carries polluting nutrients, sediments, and pesticides into rivers and lakes.

And on top of those benefits, farmers who have embraced cover crops are seeing improved soil quality — and yields too.

Get Schooled:

  • Get the facts about cover crops from this OSU Extension factsheet
  • Learn more about the effects of cover crops on soil and water quality from this USDA paper by Tom Kaspar
  • Read this article by the USDA for a crash course on the risks and benefits of cover crops
  • Check out this guide to cover crops from Cornell University New York State Agricultural Experiment Station

The fine print:

 

 

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