Study: Cover crops can sequester carbon

Programs ICONA 12-year study shows that cover crops can sequester soil organic carbon.

Of the many benefits of cover crops, that is one that is not well known,“Very few have ever talked about the potential for carbon sequestration in soil as a result of cover crops,” says Ken Olson, University of Illinois Soil Scientist. He tells Brownfield Ag News their 12-year study at Dixon Springs Agricultural Research Center (in southern Illinois) has proven it.

Olson tells Brownfield they evaluated plots that were farmed with no-till, chisel plow and “moldboard” or conventional plowing treatments – with and without cereal rye and hairy vetch cover crops, “We found in those last 12 years that we were able to increase it in all three tillage systems with no-till being the most successful.”

Olson says the soil organic carbon stock gains were 30-percent higher for no-till, 18 percent higher for conventionally plowed and 10 percent higher for chisel plowed. The study did not find an increase in yield from cover crops.

AUDIO:  Interview with Ken Olson (9:00 mp3):

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