Get more from cover crops by visiting Cereals 2016 soil pit

Cover crops have a key role in improving the structure of soils, however, selecting the right species for the required job is critical with widely different rooting characteristics

For example, tillage radish is seen as the “jack hammer” with its deep roots, while oats have shallower, more fibrous rooting.

To better understand the effect of these differences in rooting habits, visitors to this year’s Cereals event will be able to see for themselves how species differ.

A new soil pit measuring 8m long, 4m wide and 1.2m deep will be alongside a range of cover crop mixes to demonstrate different rooting. Tours will be led by a soil scientist sharing tips from the latest research.

See also: Short-term benefits pay for cover crop establishment

Ron Stobart, head of farming systems at Niab Tag, says: “We are hoping that arable farmers will take this opportunity to consider the impact that soil has on their productivity.

“We would encourage farmers to consider the benefits cover crops could bring to their farms and to develop what they have seen to suit their own farm situations.”

The soil pit will demonstrate four cover crop mixes, each specifically selected for strong root growth:

  • Tillage radish
  • Radish and spring oat mix
  • Spring oats, radish, vetch and phacelia mix
  • Crimson cover, black medick and vetch mix

For comparison there will be spring and winter rye, winter wheat and spring barley on the other side of the pit, together with a sub-soiled area.

The soil pit is sponsored by Niab Tag and Rothamsted Research and you can buy tickets online for the event to be held at Chrishall Grange, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, on 15 and 16 June. 

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