Study Highlights Cover Crop Benefits

A study from Cranfield University in the United Kingdom showed that using cover crops not only protects the soil and adds organic matter, but it also resulted in increased numbers of earthworms and financial savings for farmers due to reduced tillage. In this study of a three-year wheat-maize-lettuce rotation, treatment with a mustard, oilseed radish, and black oat cover crop resulted in an earthworm population three times larger than on the treatment with no cover crop. In addition, the researchers found that the frost-sensitive cover crops improved nitrogen levels in the spring and increased soil microbial biomass.