The soil type in your area may contain more clay. Therefore, you might be wondering what type of cover crop will be suitable for your clay soil. Read on for some quick tips.
Cover crops are basically grown for the advantages of the soil rather than crop production. The cover crop is a stepping stone for prospective growing plants. They serve some good purposes such as protecting your uncultivated land from erosion and weeds. They can also improve soil nutrients and structure.
Cover crops protect your bare soil. The idea behind the cover crop is planting on your garden during the offseason. Cover crop prepares the soil and breaks up the compaction of clay soil and it helps maximize your soil fertility.
When cover crops are tilled back into the soil, it enhances the organic composition of the soil.
The Best Cover Crops for Clay Soil Improvement
Clay soils are heavy and difficult to work with as it does not allow water to pass through easily.
The easiest way to working with clay soil is to combine it with organic materials. The key to going about this is to start with making use of cover crops to enhance clay soil and add organic matter afterward.
There are different types of plants used for cover crops. The best and most commonly used are the legumes and grasses, cereals included. Also, some other good varieties are the brassicas: mustard, rape, and forage radish as well as buckwheat.
The best cover crops for clay soil include buckwheat, clover, alfalfa, fava beans, and winter wheat.
Clover acts as a living mulch and one of the best is white clover. Clover is a legume and it helps absorbs nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it into the soil. The clover has an extensive root system that helps breaks up soil compaction of clay soil.
Additionally, clover acts as a ground covering and also maintain good soil nutrient. Clover acts as weed suppression and serves as protection against adverse conditions.
Buckwheat grain is one of the best cover crops to grow for clay soil. It grows rapidly and provides an excellent turnover for green manure. It is also a good method of weed suppression. It is easy to terminate with no re-growth and it supplies good mulch.
Alfalfas are good cover crops with a deep taproot system. Alfalfa breaks up compaction of clay soil and it also helps reduce erosion and build organic materials. They also provide good forage.
4. Winter Wheat
Winter wheat is grown as cash grain and it is good to cover crops for clay soil. It has a good root system and it increases topsoil tilth.
Fixing Clay Soil with Cover Crops
Fixing clay soil with cover crops means you are preparing your garden soil for future planting. The best time to plant your cover crop is anywhere around 15 to 45 days till your first frost.
After choosing the type of cover crop and planting, till the bottom right before they seed. The tilled soil bulkiness will loosen the clay soil. It will also fix nitrogen which will improve your garden plants afterward.