Share

Cover Crops

Cover crops can help improve soil quality, save manure nitrogen or fix nitrogen for the following crop, supply rescue forage and can lead to improved ground- and surface water quality.

Penn State Extension established cover crop demonstration sites at eleven farms throughout Pennsylvania.

The Penn State Cover Crop Interseeder and Applicator was designed to help establish cover crops in areas where cover crop establishment is not that feasible because of a late harvest and short season.

Farmers using a cover crop seeder developed by Penn State agricultural scientists may eventually need only a single trip across the field to accomplish what takes most farmers three passes and several pieces of equipment to do.

The question about whether corn or soybean herbicide programs will pose a problem for establishing fall cover crops has become a common question, particularly in areas of severe drought where corn is harvested earlier than normal and the desire to plant a cover/forage crop is strong.

Red clover is a short-lived perennial that is winter hardy throughout Pennsylvania.

Hairy vetch is an annual leguminous cover crop that is winter hardy throughout Pennsylvania if established in a timely manner.

As many of you know, Penn State has been doing “On Farm” cover crop research for several years now. Recently, we have moved from doing small strips and replicated small plots to also planting large blocks of species.

Tips for Southeastern and South-Central Pennsylvania farmers to consider regarding which cover crop to plant.

Traditionally, we have used cover crops for two main purposes: erosion control and additional spring forage. Today, however, the uses and benefits of the various grass and legume species is varied and numerous.

The past three years I have tinkered with numerous cover crops here in Lancaster county. Working with colleagues, farmers, and industry seed sellers I’ve established numerous strip plots on farms here in the county. It has been very interesting to see the growth habits of various species and compare this to “book” descriptions.

Although the term “cover crop” implies serving the purpose of protecting the soil from erosion, cover crops also play a role in enhancing soil productivity and crop production.

Traditionally, we have used cover crops for two main purposes, which are erosion control and additional spring forage. Today, however, the uses and benefits of the various grass and legume species is varied and numerous.