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Best Cover Crops for Organic Farming in the Midwest

Cover Crop Seeds for Sale in the Midwest

Clovers, Cereals, Sorghum Sudangrass, Brassicas & Mustards

With the surge of demand for organic crops and produce in recent years, farmers have an opportunity to capitalise on this trend. The current agricultural industry has a huge environmental impact as well as potentially damaging our health. Here are some reasons why organic farmers are so important.

Best Cover Crops for Organic Farming in the Midwest

Conventional farming often requires heavy use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which can have negative impacts on both our climate and our health. Water run-off from conventional farms can carry pollutants into rivers and other water sources. Conventional farming also wastes a lot of water through irrigation, especially high-demand crops such as cotton.

Conventional farming is a contributor to climate change. Agriculture and expanding farmland contributes to as much as 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions that humans are directly responsible for. According to the Rodale Institute, if 10,000 medium-sized farms in the U.S. switched to organic farming, the impact on greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking almost 1.2 million cars off the road.

Soil erosion is one of the biggest dangers of conventional farming practices. It can reduce the amount of usable agricultural land and affect water usage. Using harmful chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides can kill beneficial bacteria in the soil.

Organic farming encourages biodiversity, which helps a farm become more resistant to damage from foul weather, diseases, and pests. The presence of birds and other animals brings natural pest control without relying on chemical pesticides. Organic farming can also lessen the amount of wasted water by maintaining good soil quality. 

Organic farmers use methods like growing cover crops to help to control insects and weeds on the farm, prevent soil erosion, and improve the nutrient content in the soil. Here are some of the best cover crops for organic farming.

Clovers

Clovers can be a great cover crop with a wide range of advantages. All varieties are great crops for reducing soil erosion. Red and Crimson clovers are a good source of nitrogen for the soil. Sweet and Berseem clovers can help suppress weeds, while the long-lived White clover is a good way to attract beneficial insects. Compared to other cover crops, clovers can be fragile, especially Berseem clover. Most clovers are good cover crops for legumes or inter-row covers in between vegetables.

Cereals

Cereals are generally a hardier cover crop than clovers. All types are good at protecting the soil. Many cereals are inexpensive and easy to establish and manage. Rye is the hardiest, but most cereals are great cover crops to use in colder seasons. Cereals are also good weed suppressors and can reduce excess nutrients in the soil. Wheat, Rye, Oats, and Barley are some of the best cover crops you can use, especially with legumes.

Sorghum Sudangrass

An annual grass hybrid best used in summer, Sorghum Sudangrass is a good cover crop for soybeans. It is an effective weed suppressor, and helps build good quality soil. It grows fast and loves the heat. Sorghum Sudangrass is a good cover crop to use in over-farmed areas.

Brassicas & Mustards

Brassicas such as radishes, turnips, and mustards are great pest control cover crops. Brassicas, especially mustards, can release chemicals that are toxic to pests present in the soil. They also grow quickly in the fall, making them excellent cover crops in winter for vegetables and crops such as potatoes or fruit trees. If used between rows, Brassicas are good at keeping nutrients in the soil.

Crop Fertility Services is a proud distributor of the best cover crops for use in the Midwest. Our experienced team is here to help. Call or text today to learn more!

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