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


A guide to catch cropping before autumn cereals

While many farmers are growing cover crops over winter before spring crops, there is also the possibility of establishing a catch crop between harvest and an autumn-drilled crop. The key…


Cover crops help cut fertiliser costs for barley grower

As fertiliser costs spiral, Hampshire arable grower Ian Margetts is looking to cut nitrogen applications on his spring malting barley by up to 15% this season, as a result of…


How to achieve the most effective cover crop destruction

Cover crops are becoming a mainstream option for growers, but their successful destruction ahead of spring cropping is greatly dependent on the type of cover species sown, timing and removal…


How growers can qualify for new SFI soil payment scheme

Most arable growers should be able to qualify for a £40/ha payment from the first tier of a new environmental scheme by looking after their soils and so helping to…

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Case studies


Offsetting produces UK's first carbon-neutral potatoes

Morgan Scale is growing carbon-neutral potatoes in west Wales by using his cover crops and crop rotation to offset greenhouse gas emissions from his spuds and so produce for the…


Direct drill funding helps farm focus on soil health

Making the change to a more regenerative farming system would have been prohibitively expensive for Essex grower George Halsall without the support of Nestlé and its involvement in the Landscape…


Lincs grower moves towards more sustainable potato production

Farm manager Simon Day is taking big strides in growing potatoes more sustainably and cutting their carbon footprint by widening his rotation, reducing costly cultivations and introducing cover crops to…


How costs are falling for one regen farmer

The two big expenses on an arable farm – fuel and fertiliser – have been reduced significantly since Cambridgeshire grower David White decided to stop cultivating and move to a…

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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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What to consider when increasing soil carbon stocks

Soil organic matter underpins soil health, providing numerous benefits to its physical and chemical properties. But what is it, and how can farmers effectively increase levels to get the most…


Phacelia and oil radish most effective cover crop in trial

Growing phacelia or oil radish cover crops in vegetable rotations proved to be the most effective cover option in a trial investigating 26 different species and varieties. Run by Agri-Tech…


The project tackling flood risk and improving water quality

Yorkshire farmers are working together to improve the health of their soils, in a unique initiative that could play a key role in tackling the flooding risk in Hull and…


How the new Arable Soils Standard could help fill the BPS gap

Early indications based on figures announced by Defra in early July suggest that while the new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) could fill the BPS shortfall for some farmers, large farms…

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Growers to benefit from new soil resilience service

Agronomy company Agrii has launched a service aimed at helping farmers improve the resilience of their soils and sustainability of their cropping systems. Developed following studies with the UK Centre…


Advice service launched to help farmers with regenerative ag

A new agronomy and consultancy service has been launched to help farmers adopt regenerative agriculture. Groundswell Agronomy, which comes just as farmers face reductions with the Basic Payment Scheme and…


Cover crop scheme target doubled after first year success

A cover crop scheme to reduce nitrates in water has been extended to draw in more farms across parts of the south and east of England. A pilot for the…


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…

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Video: How a US potato grower is slashing pesticide use

Growing potatoes on a commercial scale with virtually zero synthetic inputs would seem impossible, but this is exactly what one US farmers has achieved using what he calls “biotic farming”,…


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…

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