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Cover Crops Boost Soil Microbial Abundance, Says Study

A new global analysis from the University of Illinois shows that planting cover crops after row-crop harvest can significantly boost soil microbial abundance, activity, and diversity. “Our analysis shows that across 60 field studies, there was a consistent 27% increase in microbial abundance in fields with cover crops versus no cover crops. It’s across all these studies from around the world,” says study co-author Maria Villamil. The study also found that microbial activity increased 22% with cover crops, and microbial diversity increased 2.5%. However, researchers noted the use of burndown herbicides to terminate cover crops had a strong moderating effect on the microbial community. The work was published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry.