Cover crop choice can augment positive effects on soil microbial communities

Photo credit: David J

It is understood that organic farming leads to substantial growth and improvement of soil microbial communities. However, few studies have investigated whether the choice of cover crop species affects that change. A new study published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment sought to understand how cover crop choice in organic and non-organically managed soils affected soil microorganisms and soil organic matter.  In a 10-year study, researchers assessed the effects of wheat vs. rye cover crops and the effects of past soil health management practices.  Results showed that the positive effects of organic management on the soil microbial community were enhanced with the use of oat cover crops. Organic management also increased the amount of accessible organic carbon.