Our Cover Crops project is finishing its fourth year, the final of our scheduled timeline.
As winter looms ever closer, it's a good time to think about our soil health come spring. The biggest advantage of cover crops is the benefits they bring to soil nutrients & the general health of the soil.
For example, we saw that planting lentils after canola will lead to nitrogen levels being reintroduced to the soil.
Cover crops can take a lot of work to establish, and sometimes it isn't economically efficient if you're just letting it die come spring. While the breakdown of that organic matter in the spring, the cost can add up and quickly become too much.
Benefits of Cover Crops
Paying for something you won't see returns on doesn't always feel good. However, sometimes the returns aren't obvious to see. Even though some can't be harvested & their yield sold, they increase the quality of your yield in the next season.
Over winter, the crops will go dormant. They'll provide ground cover, retaining moisture over winter, as well as aid in recovering nitrogen and other minerals. Along with the increased soil health, cover crops will combat soil erosion come spring.
Most times, farmers are faced with two choices after planting cover crops: leave it and get a crop out of it or go back and terminate it when it grows.
By letting it grow, you're able to profit off the crop and make some of the money back. Crops like rye are perfect for this. Inexpensive and promotes healthy soil structure in spring, and harvestable.
On the other side of the leaf, by terminating the crop or leaving it to die off will leave you with improved organic matter in the spring. This matter will break down and add minerals back into the soil, improving its quality.
Cover Crop Resources
Check out some of these handy resources on cover crops!
University of Manitoba's Dr. Yvonne Lawley talks about the goals of this project
Yvonne Lawley shares the results of cover crops in Manitoba
Cover Crops Across Prairie Canada