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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #234723

Title: Cover Crops

item Schomberg, Harry
item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: World Wide Web
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/19/2008
Publication Date: 1/8/2009
Citation: Schomberg, H.H., Balkcom, K.S. 2009. Cover Crops. Available:

Interpretive Summary: Many growers across the United States have shown an interest in cover crops for their farming operations, however, the growers have little experience with cover crops and require information as to how they can maximize benefits from cover crops. Agricultural Research Service scientists from the J. Phil Campbell, Sr., Natural Resource Center, Watkinsville, GA and the Soil Dynamics Laboratory, Auburn, AL, summarized management practices related to selection, planting, fertilizing, terminating, effect on subsequent crops, and economics of cover crops. This general overview will provide reference information about how to enhance benefits from cover crops for growers, extension agents, NRCS personnel, and the general public.

Technical Abstract: Cover crops are a beneficial tool for use in conservation tillage systems. Cover crop residues reduce soil erosion from water and wind, increase soil water availability for subsequent crops, enhance soil organic matter and biological activity, and can decrease labor and energy inputs. Cover crops can be used to enhance surface residues and maximize biomass production. When used in conjunction with conservation tillage, cover crops contribute to a synergistic system that enhances soil quality and crop production. Many of the potential benefits are directly proportional to the level of management administered to the biomass produced by the cover crops. Several management tips are summarized to enhance beneficial effects of cover crops across the U.S.