Know How / Cover crops

Get advice on the best cover crop mixture to improve the fertility and structure of your soil. Choices may be vetch, phacelia, mustard, oats or oil radish depending on the needs of your soil. See when the time is right to kill off your cover crops ready for drilling the next crop.

Advice and tips


7 ways to flood-proof soils and improve drainage

Arable growers need to follow a seven-point plan to improve their soil structure especially if, as expected, new farm support payments will depend on healthy soils. With many arable areas…


How to carry out a pre-season check on a StocksAg seeder

It wasn’t long ago that the little applicator was a slug pellet only machine, but in recent years it has gained a new lease of life as a second seed…


3 factors to consider when grazing cover crops with sheep

Sheep grazing can be a very effective way of terminating cover crops. However, getting it wrong can lead to problems including soil damage and uneven crop establishment resulting from uneven…


Why cultural control is key to keeping potato blight at bay

The strains of blight that potato growers face in protecting their crops are becoming ever more aggressive, as only the fittest survive. A good example is the recent strain 36A2.…

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Case studies


How catch crops cut one grower's costs and improved soils

After 10 years of successful cover cropping, Kent grower Guy Eckley has added catch crops to his rotation with the aim of accelerating the benefits to his soil health. These…


How a Sussex grower successfully undersows maize with grass

West Sussex grower Frans de Boer is successfully using a low-cost method of undersowing maize with a blend of fescues to enhance soil health, reduce soil erosion and promote organic…


How Cambs grower has halved glyphosate use

A Cambridgeshire farmer has dramatically halved the amount of glyphosate used, and this year he successfully grew some of his oilseed rape without using the herbicide. Glyphosate is the most…


How Lincs grower hopes to slash cultivation costs

Lincolnshire grower Andrew Ward is achieving bumper spring barley yields on his heavy land by cultivating early after the combine, and he now hopes to cut establishment costs and reduce…

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Farmer Focus: Cover crops v blackgrass control

One of my favourite meals is bangers and mash, but I definitely don’t like mush. When the first “Beast from the East” roared in, it certainly dried out the soils.…


Farmer Focus: Playing the long game with cover crops

Planting of our summer crops is in full swing here in South Africa. It might be summer but on 17 November we had a frost. Fortunately, my maize was young…

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Top tips to achieve more resilient and sustainable soils

One of the most common questions for farmers relating to “soil health” is how best to measure it and monitor progress once they have embarked on a mission to improve…


How cover crops can help growers get more from digestate

A four-species cover crop mix has proved successful on some farms in capturing the nitrogen from autumn-applied digestate, which is then released for the following crop. Digestate is a valuable…


Why a major blackgrass project is looking at soil health

Improving soil health has now been included in Agrovista’s long-term blackgrass trial, as the company continues to refine its blackgrass management advice for growers on heavy land.  The project’s tried-and-tested…


Why herbal leys have been added to arable rotation trial

The benefits of adding sugar beet and herbal leys in arable rotations are being investigated in a long-term rotational study in Suffolk, reflecting the changing challenges faced by growers.  After…

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Research shows cover crops can triple worm numbers

New research has found that growing cover crops and reducing cultivations can triple earthworm numbers, resulting in healthier soil. Earthworms are a key indicator of soil health as their activity…


Scottish cover crop trial shows lift in spring barley yields

A Scottish trial has revealed that growing cover crops can lift yields by up to 0.6t/ha in a following crop of spring barley.   The three-year trial compared crops of Concerto…


Cover crops can lift sugar beet yields, research shows

Research on the role of cover crops in sugar beet rotations suggests they can be a useful tool, but further on-farm development and refinement will be needed for individual situations.…


Research shows cover crops don’t lead to more slugs

Growing cover crops does not increase slug pressure in the following spring crop, according to new research. There has been anecdotal evidence that establishing a cover crop will lead to…

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Video: Crimper trial aims to kill cover crops without herbicides

The holy grail of crimping is for cover crops to slowly die into a weed-supressing mat, covering the soil without the use of chemical sprays or the plough. For an…


Video: Min-till drill-off the highlight of Cereals 2018

Cereals show-goers were treated to a drill-off at this year’s event, giving them chance to see how five different low soil-disturbance systems deal with the challenge of a cover crop.…


Video: 5 key points for destroying your cover crops

Timing is key when killing off cover crops with one expert suggesting a herbicide needs to be used some three to four weeks before a spring crop is drilled. Some…


Video: Advice on autumn establishment and weed control

There are four core factors that determine the success of an autumn established wheat crop – soil and seed-bed quality, weed control, timing and herbicide application. Laying the foundations of…

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