In an online article this week, Ag.com outlines the benefits of various cover crops. High on the list is annual ryegrass. Click here for the whole article by Kacey Birchmier.
Here’s the piece about annual ryegrass.
Scientific name: Lolium multiflorum
Those who have goals centered on preventing erosion, improving soil structure, and scavenging nutrients should consider annual ryegrass, recommends Barry Fisher, an Indiana soil health specialist at USDA-NRCS. This thick, quick-growing grass produces significant deep root biomass that builds soil organic matter, accesses nutrients, suppresses weeds, and curbs soil erosion. The root system of annual ryegrass is dense at shallow depths, but also sends roots deep into the subsoil. Ryegrass can also scavenge leftover N, and provide a timed release of stored N for the following crop.
“You can minimize the N tie-up by waiting a few weeks for the cover crop to decompose before planting the following crop,” says Tracy Blackmer, research director at Cover Crop Solutions.
Annual ryegrass can be terminated by mechanical or chemical means as it overwinters. However, spring termination should be executed before the seed sets for a complete kill and to avoid potential chemical resistance. Annual ryegrass is easiest to terminate before the first node appears, says Blackmer.