MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Soil biology benefits of cover crops
The fourth webinar in this series highlights research at MSU looking at the impact of cover crops on the health and diversity of the soil microbial community, and effects on corn yield.
One aspect of soil health is the capacity of the soil to increase crop production over a sustained period of time. The presence of a diverse community of soil organisms is one factor that influences the health of soils. These soil organisms perform many functions, such as pest and disease control, nutrient cycling and forming symbiotic relationships with plant roots.
Soil organic matter comes from microorganisms breaking down and decomposing plant residues into the soil. It also comes from the dead and decaying microorganisms themselves. Farmers care about soil organic matter because it is important for soil structure and increases water holding capacity. In addition to increasing soil organic matter, microbial decomposition also releases nitrogen and makes it available to crops. To build soil carbon and ensure plants have nitrogen they need for growth, farmers need to embrace practices that improve the health and functioning of soil microbial community.
Other articles in this series
- MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Cover Crops in Michigan - Interseeding Cover Crops
- MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Planting green – Cereal rye and soybean
- MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Interseeding cover crops in corn in Michigan
- MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Managing weeds when seeding cover crops
This work is supported by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program 2017-70006-27175 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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