Cover Crops and Stewardship
COVER CROPS AND STEWARDSHIP
Farmers manage a major proportion of the land and water in Pennsylvania. Farmland occupies approximately 7 million acres, or 25 percent of the land in the Commonwealth. At an average of 40 inches of precipitation per year, farmers manage 288 million acre-inches (about 8 trillion gallons) of water annually. Even the air is influenced by farm management—for example, farming affects the ammonia, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. How farmers manage their farms will therefore affect nonfarm citizens now as well as future farm and nonfarm generations. Proper stewardship will allow farmers to grow crops, maintain or improve soil quality, and contribute to clean water and air resources. Cover crops can play an important role in achieving those goals. This chapter provides a ratio- nale for the use of cover crops and gives specific information about cover crop species and their management.