Cover crops, including the ever-popular annual ryegrass, continue to gain credibility as a low cost boost for soil, water and air quality. Reducing runoff from agricultural fields, cover crops can help to improve Earth’s water quality. In the US, cover crops are already showing their value in reducing the problems in Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, cover crops including annual ryegrass and crimson clover are seen as crucial allies in reducing the need for extra nitrogen in mono-crop systems like corn and soybeans. By sequestering (annual ryegrass) or fixing (clover) nitrogen in the soil, cover crops save money while not sacrificing production.
Whatever comes out of the Conference in Paris will be good news for those adopting new conservation strategies including cover crops. Whether good practices like cover crops are further incentivized or regulated, their use will be good for agriculture and good for the health of the planet.