Cover Crop Innovation Center

Innovative Cover Crop Strategies

No-till, no-herbicide planting of early vegetable crops into winter-killed, low residue cover crops

Wet soils get you down in spring? A new project aims to enable earlier vegetable planting in spring without the use of herbicides or tillage though the use of alternative cover crops.

Under a grant from Northeast SARE, a team of research scientists, extension agents and farmers from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey are working to develop new systems of no-herbicide no-till planting of early vegetables into a seedbed prepared by low-residue winter-killed cover crops such as forage radish.


Previous Research 

Forage radish is a unique cover crop that can capture large amounts of nitrogen in fall and release it again early in spring, while loosening compacted soils and effectively suppressing weeds in early spring. In fact, by early spring, the soil after forage radish is essentially weed free, has very little residue, and is drier and warmer and ready to plant earlier than soils under most other cover crops or just winter weeds. View the Forage Radish Extension Fact Sheet (.pdf).

Project Goals

This new project is designed to see if it is practical to plant early crops directly into this seedbed without tilling it first – and without spraying a burn-down herbicide, either. A few of the questions the project will be asking are:

Stay tuned for research and demonstration results!

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Last updated: 06/13/2011

Dr. Ray Weil
Dr. Ray Weil
Office: 1119 H. J. Patterson Hall
Phone: 301.405.1314
Fax: 301.314.9041
Natalie Lounsbury, M.S., Soil and Watershed Sciences