Conservation Measures Farmers Can Use to Protect the Watershed
Cover Crops are grown on areas that are vulnerable to erosion and on fields during the off-season, when crops are not in the ground. They usually consist of grains, such as rye or barley- or legumes such as vetch. Cover crops provide natural habitat for beneficial insects and increase soil fertility, thus reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- Cover Crops reduce soil erosion by:
- Stabilizing the soil with their root structure
Decreasing the amount of water that runs off the land
Slowing the surface flow of water
Absorbing the energy of raindrops
- Cover Crops improve the quality of soil by:
- Adding nutrients to the soil, such as nitrogen
- Improving the soil structure by increasing organic matter
- Increasing the amount of water that can be absorbed into the soil
- Cover crops improve agricultural water quality by:
- Filtering sediment out of the water as it flows through the vegetation
- Reducing the need for additional chemical fertilizer applications
- Reducing the need for pesticides by supporting healthy soil life
- Reducing the need for herbicides by suppressing weed growth in off seasons
- Reducing the amount of nitrogen that can leach into groundwater by bonding nitrogen in the plants themselves
- Reasons why farmers implement cover crops:
- They are relatively inexpensive, compared to other management practices.
- They are easy to install and maintain.
- They enhance soil quality.