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Jam Lady

Cover Crops

What goes around comes around - cover crops on commercial farms in the USA.

Nice article I thought.
Rob R

A good article, but I was intrigued by the idea of malting barley as a cover crop;

The Blue Ox Malthouse in Maine was established to coax farmers there to grow barley as a cover crop, which the company then turns into malt that is sold to the state’s craft beer industry. Half a dozen farmers are producing good-quality barley as a cover crop, and others “are interested in turning the grains they’ve been growing as cover crops into something there’s a value-added market for,” said Joel Alex, Blue Ox’s founder and maltster.

Is it really possible to grow a malting crop between two annual crops over there? Though if you're selling it to a maltster, surely it's cash crop, not a cover crop...

The best bit was;

Before cultivation, Indiana was blanketed in prairie grasses and forest, and the carbon content of the soil was as high as 10 percent in places. Today, after decades of tillage, which moves carbon from the soil into the atmosphere, and monocropping, the level on many farms is below 2 percent, Mr. Fisher said. Cover crops restore organic matter back into the soil, at a rate of about 1 percent every five years.

“As we put carbon back into the soil, it gives us a bigger tank to store water naturally,” Mr. DeSutter said. “This is one way we build resilience into the system.”

I couldn't agree more.
Mistress Rose

Very interesting. We can't grow a second crop between annual crops here at all. Cover crops tend to be to plough in or in corners where they are more cover for birds and winter feed for them as anything.

on a smaller scale i have found fast growing stuff to be effective ,lettuce between garlic and late beans etc etc .

for a green manure crop in the uk say between leaks and beetroot( if one is planting plugged roots) things like coriander seem to work well and you can eat some of it .

i grew barley between dust and adding manure and planting a year round bulb selection (for pretty in a front garden) and although the birds ate the crop well before it was ripe the straw did make a good mulch Rolling Eyes
Rob R

The best ever silage we made was a barley crop undersown with clover. It was awful going through the combine but fantastic fodder for the cattle. I can appreciate why it's not common practise. I wonder if the extra carbon locked up ever made up for the extra diesel used.
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