What are cover crops?
Cover crops are plants or a diverse mixture of plants that are grown to help suppress weeds, manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, disease, wildlife and biodiversity.
What benefits do cover crops give to livestock?
Well-planned annual cover crop mixes can provide highly nutritious avalible forage when perinnial grass pastures are either unproductive, poor in quality, or in need of rest. This delivers tremendous benefit to animal health and production.
What is ‘no-till’ farming?
No-till farming is a way of growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil by tilling.
How do cover crops impact the soil?
It’s different for every farmer, but in general, cover crop benefits include: enhanced soil biology, improved soil structure, increased infiltration, reduced erosion, weed suppression, nutrient cycling and wildlife propagation.
How do no-till methods impact the soil?
Tillage is very destructive to soil biology and soil structure. Through no-till methods we have seen big improvements in soil structure, function and fertility. This technique also increases the amount of water that infiltrates the soil and increases the organic matter retention and cycling of nutrients in the soil.
Can cover crops bring year-round profit?
Used as a rotation in cropping or pasture system, cover crops can provide huge amounts of bio-mass that can be grazed with very little inputs.
When correct techniques are used, cover crops can create opportunities to make the most of 'out-of-season' rain and covert into live weight gains whilst improving soil health. Thought and care needs to be taken in managing soil moisture for following crops in low rainfall environments.
NEW TO COVER CROP FARMING?
We are working hard to collate in-depth resources to help new farmers learn about why cover crops and no-till methods are sustainable farming techniques. Please check back here soon...
We keep bulk stock of our seasonal seeds and specialised mixes, plus are always happy to combine a custom blend to suit your request.
Winter Mixes 2020
WINTER SUPER MIX | Triticale, Barley, Oats, Cereal Rye, Peas, Vetch, Radish, Shaftle Clover, Arrow Leaf Clover, Safflower
WINTER FEED MIX | Triticale, Cereal Rye, Barley, Vetch, Radish, Clover, Winter Canola, Oats, Peas
Winter Companion Mixes 2020
Down Under Covers can blend the following to your specification:
Triticale, Barley, Oats, Cereal Rye, Peas, Vetch, Smart Radish, Shaftle clover/Arrow leaf, Berseem Clover, Safflower, Winter Canola, Lentils, Antler Chicory, Tonic Plantain, Bouncer Forage Rape, Turnip Seed, Tetila Annual Ryegrass, MD Perennial Ryegrass, Cocksfoot Winter, VNS Continental Fescue, Millet, Corn, Buckwheat, Sunnies & Faba Beans.
Barley has a higher salt tolerance than other small grains. It is great at suppressing weeds and has relativley low water usage.
One of the highest nitrogen fixing grain legumes, they continue to produce N through grainfill and full maturity. Sprouting a vigourous taproot and lateral root system that can mellow the soil and go down to good depths. They thrive in cool wet soils and can break the life cycle of root dieseases like take-all and crown rot. Faba beans also have a sybiotic relationship with corn.
Cereal Rye has an excellent fibrous root system that alleviates surface compaction. Cereal Rye is known for being the best cereal crop at retaining residual Nitrogen. Rye is the most cold tolerant grain crop known, and will produce more growth during winter than any other crop. Rye will out yield any other cereal crops when planted in droughty, infertile, or sandy soils.
Corn has a large root mass and return considerable organic matter to the soil. Corn roots deeply into lower soil horizons, lifting subsoil nutrients that can be used for subsquent crops. Like millets, corn poses no prussic acid risks.
Mycorrhiza filaments extend from the roots into the soil, reaching several times beyond the root hairs. In this way the mycorrhizae increases the zone of P absorption around the roots, effectively increasing the absorbing surface area of the root and assisting the host plants to access nutrients (esp. P, zinc and copper) that are relatively immobile in the soil.
Corn has long been utilised as a forage source for livestock, proving to be extremely palatable with high nutritional value. We have seen in our plots how aggressively cattle will pursue consuming corn over other warm season grasses. Corn cultivars only improve the forage quality and it’s documented by researchers and farmers to notably increase milk & livestock production.
Lentil thrives in cool, dry conditions where they can remain relatively free of disease while fixing atmospheric N into the soil. With a shallow rooting structure that doesn’t have the ability to reach subsoil moisture, low water use and supports mycorrhizal fungi, makes lentils an excellent cover in front of cereals or deep rooting crops. Lentils also make a great choice for companions with winter cereals and or canola. Can also provide a higher quality forage.
Lupins are fantastic at fixing N into the soil whilst absorbing phosphates. Lupins are also one of the most tolerant grain legumes to acid soils.
Millet provides high quality forage in a short amount of time with minimal inputs. Originating from Asia and Africa, millet tends to have excellent heat and drought tolerance. Enhances less fertile soils and excels in difficult growing conditions. Like corn, millets poses no prussic acid risks.
Oats have fibrous root system and are a great supporter of mycorrhiza. They release allelopathic chemicals by the decomposing residue, suppressing weed germination. Oats high quality forage is more palatable than rye or wheat. Also, oat is less prone to insect problems than either wheat or barley. Oats have been shown to greatly reduce take-all of wheat and can improve the productivity of legumes when planted in mixtures.
Peas provide substantial benefits to cereal and oil seed crops through diesease suppression. Also a great nitrogen fixer, its residue breaks down rapidly release N quickly. Peas are very effective at reducing take-all dieseases in wheat. Also makes a great companion for canola.
Safflower is a drought tolerant, annual, warm season broadleaf that can be seeded in cool soils. Safflower is exceptional at breaking hard pans, encouraging water and air movement into the soil profile, as well as scavenging nutrients from depths unavailable to most agronomic crops. It is capable of doing this due to its impressive taproot which has been observed to grow 2-3 metres in ideal conditions. Safflower is a geat crop for cereal dieseases including crown rot, common root rot, yellow leaf spot and spot form of net blotch. Also provides as a good host for AMF and like barley exhibits similar tolerance to saline soils.
A higly mychrozial warm season broadleaf that can tolerate cooler soils with a prolific root system that has the ability to penetrate hard pans and add organic matter deep into the soil. They have the ability to soak up residual nutrients out of reach of other species, such as Calcium and Zinc.
Sunflowers are also very good ay attracting beneficial insects and pollinators, plus can act as a trellis for vining crops and provide valuable forage for livestock when grazed.
Winter Canola is part of the brassica family which produce deep tap roots and have become integral to many cover crop mixes. They are great at breaking up soil compaction and scavenging nutrients. When planted with a legume, it has been found that the legume can produce up to twice the amount of N. Also a great suppressant of soil diseases and nematodes. High palatability for grazing in livestock production.
Vetch offer high production, great grazing value & increases soil N. It also has the ability to offer substantial improvements in soil fertility, structure and organic matter as well as offering weed & break in cereal and canola crops. Vetch is also more tolerant to acid soils than most grain legumes.