Summer Fallow Cover Crops
Summer fallowed fields are a common part of rotations in the arid western Great Plains, but tilled fallow or chemical fallow can both lead to biologically stagnant soils. Properly utilizing cool season cover crop species at the beginning of the fallow period allows producers to diversify crop rotations, build carbon ground cover to reduce erosion and evaporation, suppress resistant weed species, and build organic matter.
Early spring moisture will be utilized to get the cover crop started and with early summer termination, recharge moisture will be stored more efficiently due to increased infiltration and decreased evaporation. Utilizing the cover as livestock forage is also an option, but grazing must be properly managed so the ground is not left bare through the summer.
Note: Using a spring seeded cover crop will disqualify you from taking summer fallow wheat insurance, but many producers still feel it is worth doing.