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Getting the Most out of Cover Crops – It Starts with Seed

Getting the Most out of Cover Crops – It Starts with Seed

By Bethany Shively

While there are plenty of reasons for farmers to consider using cover crops, it can sometimes be a challenge knowing where to start and which factors to keep in mind to ensure the best results for the investment. The use of cover crops has been shown to reap both economic and environmental benefits. Looking at the environment, cover crops can improve soil health and water quality, increase carbon sequestration, help control pests and disease, improve biodiversity and more. From an economic standpoint, cover crops aid in long-term productivity and efficiency – assisting in water retention efforts over time and allowing farmers to better protect their crops and more effectively utilize fertilizer and crop protection products during the growing season.

To fully leverage these benefits, it’s important to have a long-term strategy in place, starting with seed selection. Cover crops are not a one-size-fits all tool; each farmer considers their individual operation and environmental goals in developing a plan that will lead to success.

It’s also worth noting that drought conditions and global supply challenges have impacted cover crop seed growers, just like other farmers. With the potential for temporary shortages of some varieties in certain locations, it’s important for farmers to plan early and proactively to ensure seed selection will be ready and in stock when and where needed.

A local, professional seed dealer can be a great partner and resource to help navigate these decisions. After all, quality cover crops start with quality seed. Professionally produced and processed seed has been selected, harvested, cleaned, analyzed and packaged for performance, and also tested for purity and germination. All of this helps ensure farmers get the best quality seed to meet their individual goals, while minimizing the presence of invasive and other weeds. The American Seed Trade Association’s interactive map resource can help anyone looking to find a nearby cover crop seed dealer.


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