Elm Farm 2010: Cover crop species could suppress weeds

Selecting a mix of complimentary legume species sown into a stand could have significant agronomic benefit helping suppress weeds as well as adding to the nutrient supply available to subsequent crops.

That’s the opinion of researchers at the Organic Research Centre, Berkshire, where trials to establish a range of legume mixes suited to a range of soil types and regional growing conditions are underway, explained researcher Thomas Doring at Elm Farm’s Organic Producer conference.

“For example, use of the tall, purple-headed crimson clover in a mix provides very strong early growth and good ground cover. Once established it becomes erect, allowing weeds to establish so we are looking for a later establishing legume that can compete with weeds to compliment it in a mix,” he explained.

The three-year trial is monitoring growth patterns of different legumes using trial plots at six research stations conducting replicated trials and 35 commercial farms using trial strips in established rotations. That will give growers confidence knowing recommended legume mixes have been trialled in regional growing conditions, added Dr Doring.

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