Cover crops can penetrate hardpan, aerate soil, recycle nutrients, suppress undesirable weeds, create water percolation paths, and add biomass to soil, all in only 6 to 8 weeks.
Here in southeast Nebraska we have simplified the cover crop recommendations for planting after wheat is harvested in July. Plant as soon as practical after wheat is harvested. To keep cost a minimum we recommend oats and radish for tillage purposes and oats and turnips if grazing is a priority. After experimenting with this, add other seed types to benefit the soil. Seed "cocktails" are beneficial but can be costly and difficult to establish.
Cereal Rye: Elbon & Northern Winter Rye
Hunter Forage Brassica
Hunter is a hybrid developed by crossing turnips with related Asiatic leaf vegetables of the same species. The resulting quick-growing, leafy turnip, with minimal bulb development, is best suited to multiple grazings for summer and early-autumn feed requirements. Hunter is a fast maturing forage brassica with the first grazing possible at 6 to 8 weeks. Hunter is an excellent quality forage capable of providing extremely high live-weight gain on animals. Hunter was bred for tolerance to turnip mosaic virus and cauliflower mosaic virus. This combined with selecting for vigorous regrowth, has provided a variety with fast recovery from grazing and excellent ability to yield in the second, third, and sometimes fourth regrowth cycle. Plants usually show good resistance to most clubroot races, but they are susceptible to drought and aphids, and are best suited to heavier soil conditions with periodic summer moisture or irrigation.
Graza Forage Brassica
Graza forage brassica is uniquely smooth-leaved, low-crowned and late-flowering. It originates from a complex series of crosses and selections carried out over 17 years for smooth leaves, an ability to recover from multiple grazing and for late-flowering habit. Graza's palatability, yield and quality under grazing compares favorably with the widely-used leaf turnips. A big advantage over leaf turnip crops is Graza's persistence giving more grazing cycles. Graza can be utilized as a pure stand or in mixes with brassicas or pasture herbs in grazing systems
Daikon Radish Cover Crop
Using deep-rooted Daikon Radish as a cover crop is a great way to address many issues in soil. Deep-rooted Daikon Radish works well to alleviate soil compaction and mellow out the soil. It's one root to easy get excited about!
A by product of the radish root penetrating deep into the soil is the natural uptake of nitrogen and other nutrients. Daikon Radish will store those nutrients in the plant and following winter-kill releases them for the cash crop to use.
To find out more about the benefits of radishes click here for a write up done by the Maryland Cooperative Extension.
Purple Top Turnip Cover Crop
This is a variation of turnip that is white and purple that has smooth, globe roots take about 55 days to reach maturity. This is a plant that has many great uses such as putting nutriments back into the soil as well as providing a food source for wildlife and livestock. The seeding rate is about 2 to 3 pounds per acre when blended or 5 to 6 pounds per acre when pure stand.
To find out more about the benefits of turnips click here for a write up done by Purdue University.