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Its a cover up

cover crops 2

I've mentioned Cover Crops a couple of times on Facebook and in a couple of Blog Posts too  but I thought I'd write a post explaining what they actually are and why we choose to farm using this method.

Basically the old fashioned or usual method of Farming was that after the crops were harvested, the straw would be left in lines and baled into bales, either round or square, then led away to be used as animal bedding for the Winter.  The fields would then be ploughed and left over the Winter months for the frosts and cold weather to break down the soil before it would be cultivated in the Spring, then planted with the next crop which would be harvested in the Autumn.

The minimum tillage method that we have adopted  means that instead of baling the straw we have it chopped very finely by the combine harvester and then it is left in the field without being moved or baled.

The next process involves planting a Cover Crop, which as it is planted  incorporates the chopped straw and makes a very different type of seed bed to the norm. This year we have planted a mixture of Yellow mustard, Brown mustard, Tares, Berseem Clover, Oil Radish and Facelia.  Chris has chosen this particular mixture of seeds for their great root systems which are nitrogen fixing as well as breaking up the soil naturally and also providing cover for birds and animals.

This quick growing crop thrives all Winter, sequesting carbon and as it dies away in the Spring it  is used as manure as it is mulched away and then we plant the next cereal crop which is harvested in the Autumn.

This method of using cover crops means that the use of excess cultivation is reduced, the need for artificial fertilisers and sprays is also minimised and the soil is naturally enhanced as the worm population can thrive and the natural bacteria increase too.  We have used this system for a number of years and the difference we can see is amazing, plus the bonus is that the birds and wildlife seed food and shelter from the cover crop during the Winter months but they also thrive as their environment is enhanced naturally without the excessive use of sprays and artificial fertilisers.

cover crops

I'm really proud of how we farm with the environment at the heart of all that we do so I hope you don't mind me sharing this explanation with you all.  Please feel free to ask any questions that you have and I will pass them on to Chris and George as they're the experts, not me!

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