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Forage Radish as a Cover Crop





Forage Radish as a Cover Crop
by Laurie Gandy, Soil Conservationist

In recent years, forage radish use as a cover crop has gained the attention of local farmers.   Forage radish is a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), which historically has been used for animal feed crops.  Using a forage radish as a winter cover crop instead of /or in combination with small grains wheat or rye will help no-till farming operations in many ways.

The forage radish has a very large taproot which will break up soil compaction, retain soil moisture, and contribute to Nitrogen for the spring planted crop. Other benefits from forage radish are rapid growth in the fall, high biomass production, and resistance to pests.  Direct farmer benefits include weed suppression, organic matter build-up, erosion control, and runoff reduction.

The New Castle Conservation District cover crop program assisted in the implementation of more than 330 acres of forage radishes in the fall of 2011. The 2012 -2013 cover crop program sign-up begins on August 13 in New Castle County.  Sign-up for the Sussex and Kent Conservation Districts cover crop program is open now through August 10, 2012.  

For more information about the forage radish cover crop or other cover crops, contact your local USDA-NRCS office or conservation district.  In New Castle County, call 302-832-3100 x 3; in Sussex County, call 302-856-3990 x 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600 x 3. 

Caption: Forage radish has many benefits when used as a cover crop. (photo by Dastina Wallace)


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