NW Indiana SWCD Research Report on Cover Crops including Annual Ryegrass

The Jasper/Newton Counties Soil and Water Conservation District report on cover crops (click here to see the whole report) is further proof of the efficacy of cover crops. Some highlights:

Here are the goals farmers (in their own words) are trying to accomplish:

  • Capture nitrogen
  •  Promote soil biology
  •  Improve soil quality
  •  Address compaction
  •  Reduce weed population
  •  Manure nutrient capture
  •  Prevent wind and water erosion
  •  Build organic matter
  •  Provide nitrogen credit
  •  Break hardpan layers
  •  Increase yields
  •  Reduce risk of drought
  •  Diversify rotation
  •  Be a steward

Pits dug, both in the fall after planting and again this spring, allowed a close look at how annual ryegrass and other cover crop varieties accomplished the task of breaking up compaction.Among the best, and no surprise here, was that annual ryegrass roots were found at depths of 3 to 4 feet.

Dan Perkins, the Watershed & Conservation Program Specialist who produced the report, also has some videos from the cover crop plots. Here’s one in which he shows off the fields with annual ryegrass, crimson clover and radish, and discusses the logic and process of successfully killing the cover crop in the spring.