Teed Mour harden with Cover Crops

Fifth generation farmer Dean Berden of Snover, Michigan, uses cover crops for fertilizer in his farm fields and his family vegetable garden. Dean produces dry beans, soybeans, wheat, oats, and organically certified cover crop seeds on his 500-acre Thistle Down Farms without using any commercial fertilizer supplements.

In his home garden, Dean also depends on cover crops to build soil fertility. He uses a three-year rotation program, planting a cover crop the first year to build fertility, followed by a light-feeding" vegetable crop, tike peas or beans, in the second year and a 'heavy-feeding" crop, like corn or tomatoes, in the third year.

"The microbes in the soil thrive on the habitat created by cover crops," Dean explains. "When the cover crops are cut and tilled under, the microbes greatly increase in numbers and feed themselves on the plant residues." In turn, the microbes generate nutrients in forms that plant roots can absorb.

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