[Mar. 6, 2017] Magic cover crop carpet ?

Farmers roll two cover crops, hairy vetch and triticale, into a thick mat which serves as a mulch and weed-suppressant. (Rossie Izlar)

“Organic farmers have to make hard choices between protecting soil from erosion and controlling weeds. For example, large-scale organic farming relies heavily on tillage. Tilling breaks up the soil to kill weeds and prepare for planting. But intense tillage can compact soil, cause erosion, and deplete nutrients. As a result, some organic farmers are turning to cover crops for weed control.

Cover crops are planted after harvest as an in-between crop. Cover crops improve the soil with living roots that protect it from erosion and add nutrients. Cover crops are usually plowed down, but another option is flattening the cover crop to form a thick carpet, or mat. They do this with a roller crimper—a heavy, rolling drum attached to a tractor…”

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