Cover crops use water, but benefit soil

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A Texas A&M AgriLife Research study of cover crops in the Rolling Plains determined cover crops use water, but don't necessarily reduce cash crop performance.

According to AgriLife Today, there has been much interest nationwide in cover crops and the effects they have on soil health. Dr. Paul DeLaune, an AgriLife Research environmental soil scientist, has worked on two studies using cover crops in the Rolling Plains.

By studying conventional tillage without cover crops, no-till without cover crops and no-till with various mixtures of cover crops, DeLaune's initial findings indicate the water use differs among cover crop species. The multi-species cover crop also produced the greatest biomass. Stored soil moisture was greater in some cover crop treatments compared to treatments without cover crops after the initial rainfall, indicating cover crops could be encouraging infiltration.

But DeLaune warns that results from implementing cover crops won't be immediate. "It is something the farmer is going to have to be dedicated to, committed to and understand that it is a long-term process before possibly seeing the benefits of this system," he said.



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