This year’s historical drought has provided a prime opportunity for a special focus on a most-precious resource, our soil.
Though we tend to think first of the extreme weather’s effect on our 2012 crop yields, its impact on feed supplies and the health of our fields could easily extend the damage into next season and well beyond. Indiana State Department of Agriculture encourages our farmers to minimize this impact by spending some time this fall considering their opportunities to improve soil health.
One way to address soil health and make the most of these conditions is through the establishment of cover crops like oats, clover, rye grasses and radishes.
These can provide emergency forage, reduce soil loss, scavenge precious nutrients, improve water quality, offer wildlife habitat and rehabilitate pastures, all while developing soil health at the same time.
Cover crops improve soil health by creating more organic matter in the ground and increasing water-
holding capacity. They help to reduce soil compaction and erosion and can ultimately suppress weed pressure while increasing the yields of subsequent crops.
They can also provide critical forage for grazing, chopping or haying at a time when livestock producers everywhere are facing cost-related challenges and having to reassess how to manage feed sources for their animals.
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