What’s all the Hubbaloo with Cover Crops as a Magic Elixer?

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Published March 10, 2020 | By Mike Petersen


Early March 2020, we returned from a high powered, well attended Commodity Classic held in San Antonio, we returned with tired voices from talking and interacting with so many good folks at the Trade Show.  In fact we were informed that the crowd was a record number, made for many conversations going on with two to three sets of growers per Orthman representative and others wanting to ask questions.  Good position to be in.


There were some Win-win sessions going on each morning of the Trade Show and audiences crowded around tables and chairs to hear speakers that spoke to issues marketing, Soil Health, High Yields and Cover Crops.  The latter subject just mentioned was very prevalent with the exhibitors, Soil Microbial mixes were also a topic from many of the exhibitors and then Cover Crop seed sales and mixes they sell.


Image Above:

Soil Scientist for Orthman Manufacturing, Mike Petersen [guy in the dark green shirt] explains physical characteristics of Soil Health to Idaho growers.


As a soil scientist I shake my head at the lather that has been rubbed up into suds regarding cover crops, their inevitable roots living longer if planting properly.  In that mantra that is spoken of over and over  (living green matter year around) there seems to be a lack of sense about what is happening in the active biological realm of the soil profiles on a growers farms.  There is also a itty-smidgen of material that comes out about the physical characteristics of soil.  I sat in on a breakout session that was to be on Soil Characteristics sponsored by Winfield Ag and the three men on the panel may have talked about characteristics of soils 3 minutes and allowed the Cover Crop person sway the topic to cover crops – not soil characteristics.  As a soil scientist for over 44 years now and would have liked to hear that the audience would get “the rest of the story” promoted.  Remember Paul Harvey on his daily radio broadcast about noon every day when he said with his dramatic pauses, “And now you know the rest of the story.”


Folks living roots, exuding and secreting have a  great effect on the biology and chemistry and yes even the physical.  But with my emphasis for growers is to understand physical characteristics play a very serious part in the orchestra of soil health.  I know No-Tillers bray and proclaim pretty loud that they have the answer for Soil Health, the vertical tillers say they too are strong advocates of Soil Health. Be cautious folks what you read, hear – do investigate the major three components equally when you look into Soil Heath and the selling of the emphasis of Cover Crops being the “Next Best Thing”  I think that was sung by a Country –Western singer.  Weigh the facts with Cover Crops, there are places here in the U.S. and across the planet where Cover Crops may just not have all the bi Wow effects.


I will in the near future, write blogs to go more into each of the three parts to Soil Health.  We here at Orthman Manufacturing want you to have a greater awareness and knowledge level to weigh the cover crops additions to benefit your crop rotations and soil resources where and when they can fit.




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