Cover Crops Prove Value in Drought

No-Till on the Plains speaker says cover crops keep soil cooler, conserve more moisture than they use

Gail Fuller farms near Emporia and like most of Kansas, was hit hard by severe heat and dry weather conditions last summer. At the end of the summer, he was more convinced that ever that continuous cover crops pay, even with no rain and temperatures over 100 degrees for weeks.

Fuller told attendees at the annual No-Till on the Plains Conference in Salina that soil temperatures on acres with cover crops were as much as 30 degrees cooler than without them. His latest experiment: companion crops planted for "green mulch" with corn.

He says he uses a mixture of plants for cover crops and has added those that attract insects, including natural pollinators.

He said he has reduced the use of chemical fertilizer by 25 percent and plans to reduce it further if he gets an established stand of legumes in his cover crops.

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