Sustainability

Cover Crops are an Important Implement in my Sustainability Toolkit

Cover crops help me to not only safeguard, but also to further enrich my farm’s soil health. The root systems from those cover crops cycle the leftover nutrients from the previous crop and bring them to the surface. This sustainability practice helps enhance organic matter and water holding capacity, and it’s important to remember that healthy soil is critical to feed our world’s growing population.

 

Cover Crops are an Important Implement in my Sustainability Toolkit

  • At our place, Dee River Ranch, we plant a mixture of cover crops.
  • The mixtures include radishes, turnips, wheat, and winter peas.
  • Here’s a better look at the ground. Cover crops help with erosion by holding the soil into place when there’s not a crop in the field.
  • This gives you a better look at how extensive our cover crops are.
  • This is a turnip. These turnips have been bred and developed to produce a large taproot and penetrate compacted soil layers to increase soil aeration and water infiltration, to decrease compaction, and to increase rooting depth opportunities for successive crops. This is all critical for nutrient retention.
  • This radish is the same size as my foot! My foot is a handy measure in the fields. Take a look at the size of this earthworm! The presence of earthworms is an easy way to gauge how healthy our soil is. I’m able to see that our efforts at nutrient retention are paying off.
  • Sunflowers are another part of our cover crop mixture. You can see quite a variety of plants here, if you look at the ground.
  • I love this bigger view of our sunflower field. In addition to what they’re doing for our soil, they are just gorgeous to look at.
  • Sunflowers have a large taproot and a strong root system, which helps to bring subsoil nutrients to the surface while increasing the soil’s organic matter levels.
  • This photo also shows a better view of the ground and our various cover crops. Each one of our cover crops is carefully chosen to be an important piece of our overall sustainability plan.
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Annie Dee
Annie Dee

U.S. Soybean farmer

Alabama

Annie Dee, a United Soybean Board (USB) director, grows soybeans, corn, wheat and rye and raises beef cattle with her brother, two sons and niece in Aliceville, Alabama. They practice extensive use of cover crops to improve overall soil health. She and her husband, Ed, have five children, Rachel, Seth, Jesse, Mary and Martha, and five grandchildren.