Cover Cropping
As part of our move to No-Till farming we are integrating Cover crops into our rotation. These are mixtures of different plant types all growing together between the harvesting of one Cash crop and the planting of the next crop.
There are many benefits to this:

  • Preventing nutrients leaching away during the winter.
  • Reducing the risk of soil erosion, by slowing the rain droplets down as they fall and the roots of the plant holding the soil in place.
  • The roots do our tillage by forcing their way through the soil.
  • The roots feed the soil biology; the bacteria and fungi feed on root exudates whilst worms thrive in these undisturbed, alive soils.
  • The plants harvest sunlight, carbon dioxide and water and create Carbon in order to build the Soil Organic Matter (humus)IMG_3344
  • The cover crops allow us to integrate livestock into our arable rotation, this will increase the bacteria and other microbes in the soil through the manure and also speed up the breakdown of the cover crops making the nutrients more readily available to the next crop. IMG_3058
  • By planting a mixture of species we can add diversity to the soil, something that is lacking in modern, monoculture farming. They are planted as close behind the combine as is practical (at our busy harvest time) in order to harvest as much sunlight as possible
The “5 minute fallow” planting the Covers straight behind the combine.
Some cover crop species, such as Buckwheat and mustard will flower in the autumn to provide the added bonus of another nectar source for insects in the latter part of the year.