b'COVER CROP CORNERFeeling the Pain of High Input Costs? Cover Crops Could be the AnswerPROFIT IS DERIVED from the excess of income overThe way to keep soil biology alive and functioning expenses. To increase profit, one would either increaseis to have a continuously living root of a plant in the gross income or decrease gross expenses. In todaysvegetative stage. Plants in the vegetative stage will environment with high commodity prices, high inputrelease up to 80 per cent of the carbon they capture levels followed. The question is, how do we cash in onthrough photosynthesis as root exudates. These root high commodity prices and reduce input costs? exudates will feed the soil microbiology which then Fertilizer is one of the largest expenses on mostreacts to the plants nutrient requirements.farms, especially nitrogen. Australian soil ecologist Christine Jones reports there is approximately 440 MT of nitrogen over each square metre of earth. By KEVIN ELMY, is founder of Coverutilizing legumes with proper inoculants in both Crops Canada.There are some cost-effective monoculture and polycrop situations, we provide the His book Coveropportunity to fix atmospheric nitrogen and createways to help your bottom line Cropping in Western Canada isplant available nitrogen.available throughby using cover cropsFriesen Press,Polycropping or intercropping is the practice of Amazon, andgrowing two or more cash crops together. By growingand intercropping. Building and digitally through Apple Books,a legume with other cash crops, we help reduce thesupporting soil biologyKindle, and Googleamount of nitrogen that is required to be purchased. Play. For moreis the answer to many ofinfo on CoverUtilizing species that are mycorrhizally friendly and Crops Canada visitrequire lower amounts of nitrogen in the intercroptodays agricultural issues, covercrops.ca situation may provide all the required nitrogen for theespecially building up of mix.Phosphate is the other must have in fertilizermycorrhizae fungi. application. Again, utilizing natures intelligence and using intercropping can reduce the need for phosphate fertilizer. Nature has through centuries of evolution developed a beautiful system of making nutrients available. One of the spinoffs is the vegetative plants will One of the keys to proper nutrient cycling isalso help suppress weeds. Weeds are ecologically mycorrhizal fungi, especially for non-mobile nutrientspioneering plants, meaning they thrive with excess like phosphate. Having mycorrhizal plants fromnutrients. The vegetative plant will help tie up different functional plant groups, namely grass,nutrients, preventing them from building up in forms legumes and broadleaf plants, helps the soil maximizethe weeds can use.microbes that increases the soil-available phosphate. There are some cost-effective ways to help your Instead of relying on in-crop fungicides, compostbottom line by using cover crops and intercropping. teas can replace fungicide applications. By increasingBuilding and supporting soil biology is the answer the amount of good biology on the leaves and stems,to many of todays agricultural issues, especially youll place biological material on the plants thatbuilding up of mycorrhizae fungi. Our soils are will help suppress disease-causing organisms. Thesedominated by bacteria which creates a system that is fungicides clean the leaf by removing a large amountdependent on inputs.of materials that can lead to future infections. ByBudgets need to reflect net dollars per acre over a creating a healthy immune system in the plant, yourotation, not just individual years. This will create a help the disease levels to stay under control. sustainable future, environmentally and economically. 52SPUDSMART.COM Winter 2022'