Quick Yield Boost With Cover Crops?

Cover crop researchers say most people who start using the cropping method do it for or long term improvements to soil or erosion control, but an immediate boost in production may also be a compelling factor.

Dr. Laura Van Eerd a soil scientist at the Ridgetown Campus of the University of Guelph says wasn’t expecting to see a big immediate change but says crunching the numbers with a Laval University professor shows it may well be possible.

“We took 2,400 data points, so a comparison with cover crops then without, and then looked at the impact on the following cash crop yield and 70 % of the time were higher corn yield the next year,” she says.

Van Eerd says of people she asked about reasons for beginning a cover crop program, “not one person said to increase yield in the next year.”

She adds there were a lot of data points analyzed so she believes while it may be to early to say farmers who switch to cover crops can expect an immediate yield boost, it shouldn’t be ruled out.

Van Eerd would also like to see more research into multiple species cover crops compared to single species.

She says with some farmers using as many as 15 more more species in one field, there is still a lot to learn about what is most effective.