Can cover crops speed up the decay of weed seeds?

Michigan State University is participating in a study with several other states in the northeastern U.S. to look at how cover-crop residue impacts weed-seed decay over time.

To study this, we use mesh bags filled with a known number of seeds and sand and add known amounts of cover-crop materials.

Cover crops being studied in Michigan include rye, medium red clover and no cover. The seed bags will be retrieved over the coming 2 years to see how many viable seeds remain.

Why would cover-crop residue impact seed degradation?

Perhaps the increased microbial activity associated with breaking down cover-crop residue would also impact seed degradation.