Cover Crops and Soil Health
By Bill Robertson, Ph.D.
Cotton Extension Agronomist
University of Arkansas
Newport Extension Center
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The lack of soil structure is perhaps the most limiting factor for production agriculture on the silt loam soils in the Mid-South. Greatly reducing tillage coupled with the implementation of the use of cover crops are two practices that have the greatest impact on improving soil health. The interactions of living roots in the soil as many months through the year as possible with soil microbes and soil chemistry result in improved soil structure. Reducing tillage thus reducing the destruction of the soil structure helps preserve the benefits of the cover crops on structure influencing soil health. While hurdles exist for the adoption of these vastly different practices, the end result can be positive. The willingness to adopt new practices in an effort towards continuous improvement is necessary for survival in today’s environment.