Cover Crops / Catch Crops

Your Cover Crop can consist of a single crop or be used as a mixture.

Choosing the correct species is key when it comes to a cover crop. Think about what you are trying to achieve weather its soil conditioning, drying out wet fields or putting back organic matter back into the soil. Also think about what's in the rotation for example having Brassica to close in a rotation could increase your risk of club root developing.

Cover Crops Species (Non EFA)

Triticale Phacelia Oil Radish
Barley Mustard Clover
Oats Vetch Buckwheat
Niger Niger Borage

Remember Harlow Agricultural Merchants can advise and help you make bespoke mixture tailored to your needs.

Benefits from using Covers Crops / Catch Crops

  • Longer work windows
  • Improved soil structure
  • Increased soil organic matter
  • Improved nutrient efficiency
  • Key part of an integrated rotation
  • Reduced fertiliser losses / leaching
  • Compliance with greening regulations
  • Can be used as part as you Integrated Pest Management
  • Specialist species/ varieties/ mixtures can be used to aid in weed management

EFA (SW6) Winter Cover Crops

Requirements for Mid-Tier or Higher Tier Option

  • Establish a quick-growing cover crop by 15th September that will provide a dense cover and protect the land from soil erosion and runoff
  • Destroy the cover crop in late January or early February, a maximum of 6 weeks before establishing the following spring crop. When weather conditions delay establishment of a spring crop, the cover crop can be left until mid-March.

Do not:

  • Apply any fertilisers or manures
  • **Update from BPS for 2018 ** Complete ban of plant protection products on Ecological Focus Area (EFA) Fallow land, EFA Catch and Cover Crops and EFA Nitrogen-Fixing crops.

EFA Catch Crops

EFA catch crops must be maintained for a minimum of 8 weeks starting on 20 August and must be retained until at least 14 October. The period for EFA cover crops remains at 1 October to 15 January of the following year.

Do not:

  • Apply any fertilisers or manures
  • **Update from BPS for 2018 ** Complete ban of plant protection products on Ecological Focus Area (EFA) Fallow land, EFA Catch and Cover Crops and EFA Nitrogen-Fixing crops.

EFA Cover Crops / Catch Crop Options

A mix or a single crop can be used, but crops should be suitable for winter sowing, fast growing (to mop up N) and frost tolerant to provide adequate cover over winter.

EFA Compliant Species

Barley Phacelia Oil Radish
Oats Mustard  
Rye Vetch  

Key Points

  • Cover Crops Establish by 15th September. This is so it can take up soil nitrate before winter drainage or water leaches below the depth of the developing plant
  • Catch Crops Establish by 20th August and must be retained until at least 14th October
  • You can establish you Cover or Catch crop by drilling or broadcasting
  • Suitable sowing rate should be used to provide a dense cover and protect from soil erosion and maintain soil structure.
  • Cover Crop should be destroy in late January or February, before it is too well developed (if left too late nitrate leaching may increase the following winter)
  • You can use glyphosate to help with the destruction prior to cultivations

To find out more information about EFA Cover / Catch Crops please visit: www.gov.uk/countryside-stewardship-grants/winter-cover-crops-sw6

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