There are a variety of agricultural research trials in the province, but one that stands out from the rest is the long-term cover crop trial set up by Dr. Laura Van Eerd in Ridgetown, Ontario. This trial was established in 2007 and has had consistent cover crop treatments within a processing vegetable-grain crop rotation on the same plot since then. A secondary plot was established in 2008, off-set in crop rotation by one year, as a way to capture variability and better understand factors that contribute to crop performance. The accumulation of data over the past 12 years has allowed for many questions to be answered about the impact of including cover crops as a management tool. As the trial has progressed, it has also sparked new questions to be answered.

To gain more insight into this research, OMAFRA specialist Anne Verhallen spoke with Dr. Laura Van Eerd about what she has found thus far at this long-term trial.

During the conversation, Dr. Van Eerd highlights some of the take-home messages of the project after the first 12 years.

  • The first take-home is the benefit of long-term research when it comes to not only answering existing questions but also providing the knowledge needed to ask new questions.
  • Next, this trial has provided evidence to show that including cover crops in a cropping system has the potential to increase overall crop yield.
  • The third take-home from the trial is the improvements that have been observed in overall soil health due to cover crop integration.