Sustainable Cover Cropping

Selection of a cover crop depends on when it can be planted and the goal for its use. There are many cover crop species. Legume cover crops fix atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants and microorganisms can use. The non-legume species grains recycle existing soil nitrogen and other nutrients and can reduce leaching losses. Brassicas provide sting nematode and soil fungi control, weed suppression, and scavenging nutrients. A combination of 2 or more types of cover crops is beneficial for quick establishment and improved nutrient utilization.

Legumes Grains Brassicas Alliums (Cash Crops)
Clovers Winter Rye Oilseed Radish Garlic
Hairy Vetch Oats Mustards Shallot
Field Peas Buckwheat    

Sustainable Garlic / Cover Crop Rotational Cycle

Year Season Activity
Year 1 Mid Spring Primary mold-board plow to invert field sod and disk field to break-up sod, first year only (Conventional till).
  Late Spring Soil tests to determine nutrient content and soil acidity.
  Early Summer Apply organic compost material and organic soil amendments.
  Early Summer Deep-tillage to further break-up sod, incorporate organic compost material and organic soil amendments.
  Early Summer Plant the specialized cover crops (Oats and/or Red Clover).
Year 2 Late Spring Deep-tillage (first and second years only)
  Late Spring Incorporate organic compost material and/or organic soil amendments (as necessary).
  Late Spring Plant the specialized cover crops (Mustard and Buckwheat).
  Mid Summer Mulch-tillage to incorporate cover crop. Extended Bare Fallow is optional, if additional “Weed Supression” is desired in rotation. Extended Mid Summer Bare Fallow is repeated mulch-tillage every 10-14 days over course of six weeks.  Begin at end of June with incorporation of first (spring) cover crop and concludes the second week of August with the planting of the second cover crop. Limit the tillage depth to 2-3 inches .
  Late Summer to Mid Fall Plant cover crops (Winter Rye and Hairy Vetch)
  Fall Soil tests to determine nutrient content and soil acidity.
Year 3 Mid Spring Mulch-tillage to incorporate cover crop. Incorporate organic compost material and/or organic soil amendments (as necessary).
  Mid Spring Plant the first cover crop (Oats and Field Peas).
  Mid Summer Mulch-tillage to incorporate first cover crop. This is optional step, if additional “Green Manure” is desired in rotation.
  Mid Summer Plant the second cover crop (Oats and/or Buckwheat). This is optional step, if additional “Green Manure” is desired in rotation.
  Fall Mulch-tillage and Garlic Bed Shaping
  Fall Garlic and/or Shallot Plantings. Incorporate organic soil amendments (as necessary). 
Year 4 Mid Summer Harvest Garlic and/or Shallots
  Late Summer Mulch-tillage to incorporate organic compost material and/or organic soil amendments (if necessary).
  Late Summer Extended Late Summer Bare Fallow
  Fall Plant the specialized cover crops (Oilseed Radish and Winter Rye)
Year 5   Three (3) Year Rotation – Repeat Year 2 Planting Schedule
Year 6   Three (3) Year Rotation – Repeat Year 3 Planting Schedule
Year 7   Three (3) Year Rotation – Repeat Year 4 Planting Schedule

Crop Rotational Balance

Crop Family Time in 3-Year Rotation % of Total Rotation
Legumes (Cover) ~12 months ~33%
Brassicas (Cover) ~11 months ~31%
Alliums (Cash) ~11 months ~31%
Bare Farrow ~ 2 months ~5%
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About wooleylot

Garlic Farmer
This entry was posted in Soil Conservation, Soil Nutrition. Bookmark the permalink.

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