For the Future of Farming

Why grow a cover crop?

Increase farm profitability by : -

  • Enhancing soil fertility
  • Improving structure
  • Increase soil biodiversity

Two immediate benefits of soil cover: -

  • Erosion control  (run-off can be reduced by 50-90%)
  • Weed suppression

Considerations when deciding which cover crop to grow:-

  • Harvest date and time available to sow the cover crop
  • Seasonal weather; most cover crops are best sown in July and August and will need moisture to germinate
  • Soil type
  • Timings and the ability to top and incorporate the cover crop in late autumn

Different groups of Cover Crops:-

  • Brassica species; Mustard, Oilseed radish, Leafy turnip
  • Grass species; Barley, Japanese oats, Ryegrass
  • Legumes; Vetches, Peas, Lupines, Clover
  • Boraginaceous: Phacelia, Borage
  • Polygonaceae; Buckwheat


Afbeelding: radish

Daikon Radish  - Tillage Radish

  • Produces large amounts of biomass.
  • Produces a long aggressive taproot that can penetrate  through compacted layers of soil.
  • As a result of the large taproot can capture nutrients from deep within the soil which then can be release in the spring  for the next crop.
  • Average seed rate 8-10kg/ha.

Oil Radish -Fodder Radish

  • Fast establishing cover crop
  • Good at suppressing weeds
  • Nematode resistant varieties
  • Produces large amounts of biomass, mostly leaf rather than root
  • Average sowing rate 10-25kg/ha


Afbeelding: mustard

White Mustard

  • Fast growing
  • Good weed suppression
  • Excellent scavenger of nitrogen
  • Bio fumigation properties
  • Susceptible to club root
  • Produces very large quantities of biomass
  • Destroy plant before it goes to flower and self-seeds
  • 12.5-17kg/ha

Brown Mustard

  • Fast Growing
  • Has biofumigation properties – high glucosinolates
  • Winter hardy
  • Excellent for reducing soil erosion and preventing water run off
  • Average sowing rate 5-7.5 kg/ha

Texel Greens

Afbeelding: texel-greens
  • Fast growing developed from Ethiopian mustard
  • Very large canopy produced
  • Rapid growth works to aid weed suppression
  • Winter Hardy
  • Average sowing rate 5-7.5kg/ha

Black Oat – Avena Strigosa (Japaneese Oats)

Afbeelding: black-oat
  • This species of oat will grow under all conditions.
  • Similar species to a forage oat, is produces a lot of biomass quickly due to the plant tillering quickly.
  • They are very good at disrupting disease cycles.
  •  The fast establishment helps to suppress weeds.
  • If planted to early there is a risk they could run to seed.
  • Average sowing rate 50-75kg/ha

Forage Rye

Afbeelding: forage-rye
  • Produces an extensive fibrous root system
  • Good at scavenging nutrients & retaining them
  • Produces a large thick canopy
  • Winter hardy
  • Good at suppressing weeds
  • Average sowing rate 125 - 185 kg/ha


Afbeelding: buckwheat
  • Rapid growing short term crop
  • Fast at establishing, a good early seeder
  • Highly attractive to pheasants, partridge and deer
  • Nectar attracts bees and other insects
  • Not frost hardy
  • Useful in mixtures
  • Average sowing rate 50 – 70kg/ha

Green Manuring Mixtures

Afbeelding: manuring-mixtures
  • N-Rich Cover Mixture
  • Revival Cover Mixture
  • Buster Cover Mixture
  • N-Hance Cover Mixture
  • R – Retain Cover Mixture

Please refer to Forfarmers – Practical guide to game cover, environmental, green manure and forage seeds.