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C over cropping is showing clear promise in our research programme with yield benets of up to 1.8 tha recorded in spring cereals last season. But disappointing results where grass weed pressures were high and similar responses from changes to cultivation and drilling practice show theres still a lot to learn about the technique. In particular what covers will do most good on heavy ground Where might they be best employed in the rotation How should they be managed to greatest effect And critically can they reliably justify their cost Theseareamongthekeyquestions our RD team is addressing in trials designed to tease apart the key components of cover cropping success. This season even 10 weeks of short term cover ahead of winter wheat sowing proved noticeably valuable in drying out heavy clay ground and improving its crumb structure. In this and parallel eld scale spring wheat trial work however trials manager Steve Corbett is recording noticeable differences between four different cover crops being explored alongside three non-cover regimes. From what weve seen so far the keythingweneedtoaskwithcover cropping is what are we trying to achieve alongside better winter or spring crop performance he said. Is it nutrient trapping soil structure improvement or grass weed control we really want Our studies are clearly showing its very much horses for courses. With its strong tap root oil radish made a good attempt to break through the grounds compacted layer. Decent lateral rooting also improved crumb structure. Much better crumb improvement and compaction-busting came from a combination of black oats and vetches. In fact this was nearly as good as a decent cultivation. In contrast though they worked well for soil structure and drying in the top few centimeters both phacelia and white mustard proved unable to make any impact on compaction below 10- 15cm 4-6. Theyre clearly water pumps more than anything else. Mid-October grass weed levels were highest in oil radish reported Steve Corbett. The black oats and vetch also appeared to compete less well with weeds than the phacelia and white mustard but its more open structure allowed very good control with the glyphosate cover destruction. Its very much work in progress here. Weve been encouraged by the improvements in soil structure that appear possible. Providing the right cover crop can be grown for the conditions and grass weeds kept soundly asleep after it the technique could be really valuable in improving heavy ground. However the proof of the pudding will be in securing sufcient immediate yield and input-saving benet to more than cover the cost of both the extra seed and time costs involved. 01 Addressing Key Cover Cropping Questions Journal Agrii East Summer 2015 Contents Addressing Key Cover Cropping Questions Page 01 Summer iFarm Event Previews Page 02 Grant Aid Countryside Productivity Scheme Page 03 Improvements to be found in new varieties Page 03 Facing the Fertiliser Volatility Challenge Page 04 Rural Community Champions Shortlisted Page 04 Building Success on Integrated Working Page 05 Your local Agrii points of contact Page 06 www.agrii.co.uk agriiUK