Flowering cover crops offer a win-win: weed suppression and food for pollinators
Published: December 7, 2021
Category: Regenerative Agriculture
A recent study found that when cover crops are allowed to flower, not only do they provide vital food for pollinating insects, they also help suppress weeds in future crop rotations.
Published in Environmental Entomology, the research compared floral resources, weed diversity, and economic weed abundance in crop fields across five cover crop treatments: one without cover crops (fallow), three with various combinations of flowering crops, and one with non-flowering wheat.
Cover crops are often not allowed to flower from concern that they will set seed and become weeds. Surprisingly, weed diversity was found to be highest in the field with no cover crops. Although lowest in the non-flowering wheat crop, that crop didn’t provide food resources for pollinators.
Across the five treatments there were no differences in weeds that brought economic concern. The conclusion maintains that allowing flowering cover crops will sustain pollinators yet may not significantly impact crop yield in later rotations—a win-win for farmers and for biodiversity.
Source: Organic Center
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights December 2021