Cover Crops

Cover Crops and Soil Carbon Storage

Cover crops are plants that are used before or after what is normally grown in a garden or field to extend the time living plants, and their root systems, are interacting with the soil.

Cover crops have a number of benefits:

  • Decreased soil erosion
  • Suppression of weeds
  • Reduction of surface compaction
  • Storage of carbon in the soil

How do cover crops help store soil carbon? 

Living plants have root systems that interact with soil microbes, especially fungi. A specific type of fungi called mycorrhizae fungi works together with plant roots in a mutually beneficial way. Roots and mycorrhizae ooze carbon into the soil. The longer living plants are present, the more soil carbon that will be stored.

For the soil carbon to remain, tillage should be kept to a minimum or not done at all. Tillage adds oxygen to soil which allows soil microbes to decompose organic matter as a faster rate.

Watch how cover crops can be used in gardens.