Fact Sheet: Carbon Impact of Conservation Practices: Cover Crops

Environment
Farm and Food

Cover crops provide an alternative to letting a field lie fallow during the off season. Planted prior to or immediately after cash crop harvest, they keep a living cover on the soil, which protects it from erosion and contributes to soil health. Most cover crops are not typically grown to sell, although they can be used for grazing.

Among the many options for cover crops, common choices include cereal rye, wheat, oats, turnips, and tillage radishes. Additional benefits come from planting multiple species of cover crops as well. Selection depends on the needs of the farm. Some cover crops survive the winter and need to be terminated in the spring. Others grow only in the fall and die from winter frost.

See more: No-till  |  Reduced tillage |  Extended crop rotation