Cover crops can produce compounds in the soil that reduce nematode pest populations, and encourage beneficial nematode species.
Here are some examples:
Using a rotation of malting barley > cover crop radish > sugar beets has successfully reduced sugar beet cyst nematodes to increase yield of sugar beets in a Wyoming test.
Using this brassica cover crop after malting barley or silage corn substituted profitably for chemical nematicides when nematode levels were moderate (231).
A corn > rye > soybeans > wheat > hairy vetch rotation that has reduced pesticide costs is at least as profitable as conventional grain rotations without cover crops, a study in southeastern Pennsylvania shows (174).
Fall-planted brassica cover crops coupled with mechanical cultivation help potato growers with a long growing season maintain marketable yield and reduce herbicide applications by 25 percent or more, a study in the inland Pacific Northwest showed (394). *
CCS Winter Triticale, a hybrid of Wheat and Cereal Rye, helps reduce soil-borne diseases and weeds, as well as nematodes, due to its alleopathic properties (production of natural compounds in the soil root zone).
Tillage Radish® is being studied for its nematode control effects, which show promise. CCS Crimson Clover™ is shown
Adds to a Better Bottom Line
Cover crops help build farm profitability through a combination of increased yields and reduced needs for input, including fertilizer, fungicides, insecticides and herbicides.
* Excerpted with permission from Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition, published by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) outreach office, USDA. www.sare.org.