Cover Crops - Nitrogen Fixing  10/31/19 8:29:53 AM

Nitrogen-Fixing

Nitrogen-fixing cover crops are an essential component of building productive, healthy soils on the farm. Through biological nitrogen fixation leguminous cover crops provide growers with a non-manure source of plant available nutrients. Nitrogen-fixing cover crops also protect soil from erosion, contribute to organic matter formation, reduce weed pressure, and break recurring pest and disease cycles.

Nitrogen-Fixing Cover Crops Selection Grid

SPECIES

Total N (lb/A/yr)

P & K Scavenger

Soil Builder

Erosion Control

Weed Control

Quick Growth

Dry Matter (lb/A/yr) 

Alfalfa

100-220

VG

VG

G

F-G

F

600-2000

YB Sweet Clover

70-170

E

E

VG

VG

G

3000-5000

Mammoth Red Clover

50-150

VG

VG

G

VG

F

2000-5000

Double-cut Red Clover

50-150

VG

VG

G

VG

F

2000-5000

Berseem Clover

60-220

VG

VG

VG

E

E

6000-10000

Crimson Clover

55-130

G

VG

VG

VG

G

3500-5500

White Clover

60-200

F

G

G

F

F

2000-6000

Soybeans

45-130

G

VG

E

VG

VG

2500-4500

Field Peas

70-150

F

G

VG

G

VG

4000-5000

Hairy Vetch

70-200

G

VG

G

G

F

2300-5000

Chickling Vetch

65-100

F

VG

G

F

VG

2000-4000

E = Excellent; G = Good; F = Fair; P = Poor




Your choice of cover crop species or mixtures will depend on your crop rotation, what time of year you are planting and the potential benefits you hope to gain.

  • Hairy vetch is a winter annual (often planted with winter rye or oats) and is a good option for planting after early soybeans, wheat, canning vegetables or silage corn
  • If you are looking to grow the most N in a single season you may consider mammoth red clover, hairy vetch, yellow blossom sweet clover, AC Greenfix, plowdown alfalfa or our plowdown blend
  • For maximum green manure during the hot summer months or controlling stubborn weeds look into Berseem clover, crimson clover or a single season alfalfa
  • For a quick establishing cover crop you can plant field peas, crimson clover or Berseem clover

 

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