Our expertise is deep and varied because we built Agrii by combining specialised companies over the last 30 years

Let's find out more about how Agrii helps with more about sustainable farming and the production of safe, affordable and healthy food

Establishing Cover Crops

Key Considerations when Establishing Cover Crops

    Many of the species require reasonable soil temperatures and day length. Drill immediately after harvest, ideally most cover/ catch crops should be drilled by the end of August to give sufficient biomass and rooting.

    The quantity of seed required for a good cover will vary with the types of species included within the mix in relation to seed size, plant architecture and drilling date. The target seed number for a diverse species mix drilled in early August would be 150 – 200 seeds per m2. Higher seed rates, 250 – 350 seeds per m2 with a diverse mix within an established cover cropping system have shown to provide greater soil health benefits.
    Good seed/soil/moisture contact is required to get quick emergence of the mixtures. Soil moisture needs to be conserved and ideally minimal soil disturbance should be considered during the sowing period.
    To achieve a well grown cover crop, early nutrition in the form of nitrogen is required, depending on previous cropping soil N reserves and if there is a high level of straw residue, approx. 20-30 kg of N/ha will be required to aid establishment.
    An important consideration particularly if there are high levels of straw residues; cover crops could be held back and overall level of establishment will be disappointing.
    If following winter barley, then removal of the barley straw would be useful, if not the straw and chaff residues need to be evenly distributed prior to drilling. Very good establishment of cover crops has been achieved behind pea and bean crops, also after a fallow situation.
    Slug pressure needs to be assessed following the previous crop. If the pressure is high then slugs need controlling before establishing the cover crop. Pea and bean weevil can cause serious problems for the vetches and clover species, if the pressure is high and insect activity is causing damage, the appropriate insecticide should be used.
    Cover crops need good soil structure and a workable soil to achieve maximum growth. Soil compaction needs to be addressed both for the cover and also for the following crop, therefore subsoiling should be completed if required.
    A subsoiler with a tine that stops large amounts of surface disturbance should be considered; again loss of soil moisture is an important consideration. Broadcasting seed 7 -10 days before harvest is an option to achieve earlier establishment and spread work load, but only if the soil structure is good, the correct species mix is used and an even spread pattern can be achieved.


Agrii Card Find expert

Approach Us

We’re here to help your business ambitions. See how we could work together, we’d love to hear from you.

Let's Talk
Agrii Card Seeds


The highest quality seed offerings, formulated from a science based, sustainable production

Agrii Seeds


We are the UK’s leading agronomy company, with more than 300 BASIS-trained consultants offering independent advice

Learn More

Research & Development

Learn about our latest research & development so you can feel confident about todays farming challenges.

Agrii Card Crop Marketing

Crop Marketing

Making the right selling decisions at the right time is essential for every grower

Maximise Margins