Soil health is fundamentally important to crop productivity. Cover cropping is one method of improving soil health, by preventing soil erosion and nutrient runoff, improving soil aggregation and nutrients, as well as providing other benefits to soils and crop productivity. Cover crops have also been noted for their ability to suppress weeds. Some cover crops have been noted for their allelopathic characteristics, which can decrease the germination of weeds. Farmers are striving to reduce inputs and welcome the multiple benefits that cover crops afford. No-till and reduced tillage practices can also increase water infiltration and reduce soil degradation while keeping carbon in the soil. Different types of cover crops, such as grasses, legumes, and brassicas, have different benefits for soil health and nutrient retention. Cover crops are even being utilized as a forage on dairy farms. There is a need for more research on cover crops to define the best species, varieties, and mixes for a Northeastern climate and for achieving higher cash crop yields. To examine the efficacy of winter terminated cover crops on yield of no-till spring wheat, the University of Vermont Extension’s Northwest Crop and Soils (NWCS) Program conducted a field trial with cover crops planted in fall 2017 and a crop of spring wheat grown in the 2018 field season. The suitability of the cover crops to serve as a forage were also examined.


Vermont, University of Vermont

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