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


SFI 2023: The support options for arable growers

Arable growers are being encouraged to enter the new 2023 Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) for England as it is simpler and more flexible than previous financial support packages. The new…


How frosty weather helps Cambs grower reduce glyphosate use

Cambridgeshire grower David White is taking advantage of the current cold and frosty weather to destroy his cover crops mechanically with a roller or crimper to allow him to reduce…


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…

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Case studies


Wild grey partridge project promotes biodiversity and profit

A decade-long wild grey partridge project establishing cover crop field margins at a Scottish farming estate has proved an effective way to promote biodiversity and reap an economic return. Balgonie…


Cover crop trial reveals impact of grazing on nitrates

Since winning the title of Farmers Weekly Environmental Farmers of the Year, Emma and James Loder-Symonds have been busy trialling the impact of grazing cover crops. The cover crop trial…


International expert's tips on ramping up soil carbon levels

Soil carbon levels can be moved in the right direction by applying a set of five soil health principles and recognising that every green plant is a carbon inlet, according…


Nuffield Scholar assesses the benefits of cover cropping

Cover crops are the keystone to the biological, chemical and physical function of the soil. This is according to Northamptonshire arable farmer and 2022 Nuffield Scholar Toby Simpson, whose study…

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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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How to get the most from SAM2 overwinter cover crops

Many growers will have experimented with overwintered cover crops in recent seasons, with, it’s fair to say, varying levels of success. In terms of area, overwintered cover crops is the…


Why cover crops and reduced tillage is key to soil health

Cover crops can help reduce deep cultivations to improve soil structure and cut expensive machinery costs while tapping into new environmental payments. These overwintered multispecies cover crops encourage earthworm numbers…


What French cover crop trials are helping growers understand

Research into the best varieties of cover crop species, what seed rates to use and different establishment techniques are part of a 300 plot cover crop trials platform being run…


Cover crop study shows yield benefits of destruction methods

Research funded by water companies has revealed significant differences between cover crop destruction methods for nitrogen availability in the following crop and weed control. A further project has highlighted the…

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Still time to drill a summer legume mix to improve soils

Arable growers with uncropped bare soil are being encouraged to use a summer legume mix cover crop to protect their soils from summer thunderstorms, fix nitrogen and give a good…


Farmers to benefit from new independent cover crop guide

Farmers are set to benefit from the UK’s first independent guide to selecting, establishing and terminating cover crops. Co-designed by farmers with the help of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s Farmer…


Farmers turn to flowers and bird cover after costly harvest

Farmers are seriously considering sowing more crops for pollinators and wild birds under the Sustainable Farming Incentive, rather than arable crops, as way of reducing their risks and future-proofing their…


Carbon capture research to assess crop sequestration

A new carbon capture research initiative hopes to evaluate how a range of arable and forage crops can enhance atmospheric carbon capture and soil sequestration. The Centre for High Carbon…

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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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