How Cover Crop Mixes are Revving up No-Till Systems

From simple pairs to complex 15-way combinations, cover crop cocktails are helping no-tillers harness numerous soil-health benefits.

A single species of cover crop like annual ryegrass, cereal rye or radish, seeded alone, can produce a large number of benefits for a no-tiller.

But growers are increasingly beginning to work multi-species cover-crop mixes into their rotations to boost soil health, suppress weeds, remove compaction, support pollinators or increase options for grazing operations. These mixes often include 2-5 species but can go up to 12 or 15.

No-Till Farmer recently surveyed its readers on what cover-crop mixes they’re working with, what they might try this year and what benefits they’re seeing, and more than 100 responded.

Below we’re sharing how 15 no-till veterans across the U.S. are using innovative cover mixes to their benefit. You’ll find dozens more responses at

East of the Mississippi

Getting a Start


GREENING UP. Sterling, Ohio, no-tiller Gabe Ramsier’s field as seen last November with 70 pounds an acre of cereal rye, 5 pounds crimson clover and 2 pounds radishes, broadcasted Sept. 17 after corn silage harvest and lightly incorporated with a vertical tillage tool for seed-to-soil contact.

Last fall after corn silage, we seeded about 45 acres of a mix that included 50 pounds of rye, 5 pounds crimson clover and 2 pounds of radish. We broadcasted this mix, then immediately ran our Great Plains Turbo-Max vertical tillage tool over it, very shallow, to incorporate the seed.

Our goal was to control erosion, alleviate compaction, capture any excess nutrients and provide forage in the spring before we go back to soybeans.

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John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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