Data from the University of Illinois shows that on plots dating back to 1873, we have lost about 80% of the organic matter in the soils that have been farmed continuously since that time.

An example of selecting the wrong cover crop is to plant cereal rye in front of corn. “Cereal rye uses a lot of water, and uses a lot nitrogen, so as a result, the following corn would be planted in a nitrogen deficient environment,” said Kok. “Farmers need to pay attention to what they plant, where they plant it, and when they plant it, for it to be successful.”

An example of selecting the right crop is cereal rye in front of soybeans. “Cereal rye provides excellent weed control when planted at the right rates,” Kok said. “Radishes are also good for weed control because they have some bio-fumigation effects.”