Cover Crops Yield Agronomic Benefits, Weed Control

For more than a year, the University of Arkansas’s Division of Agriculture has been testing cover crop implementation to boost soybean yield.

Dr. Trent Roberts says the time and effort producers put into cover crops can really pay off when it comes to weed control issues. Implementing cover crops into your production system provides agronomic and environmental benefits to your operation, too.

Great cover crop options include winter cereals like cereal rye, black oats and barley. These cover crops can suppress weeds, which helps with herbicide-resistant issues, and can lower the need for irrigation inputs. These crops will also address erosion control, crusting prevention and water retention.

Termination is critical in preparing for the potential negatives of cover crops. Planning ahead can bring not only short-term benefits but long-term benefits to a producer’s operation. Ideally, producers will do all land preparations before planting the cover crops and plan to manage the soybean crop as a no-till system the following year.

Dr. Roberts and his team will continue studying cover crops on a field scale but expect the long-term benefits of cover crops to outweigh costs or potential negatives.