Larry Thompson rotates a diverse array of 30 to 40 warm- and cool-season crops on small plots across his 120-acre organic farm. He sells all of his produce directly to consumers through farm stands.

His father started the farm in 1947, and he has been growing cover crops since the 1960s. His primary cover crop is cereal rye or a mix of cereal rye and Austrian winter peas and vetch, which he broadcasts in the fall at a rate of 100 pounds per acre over all open fields and fields with annual vegetables.

Cover crops improve his farm's soil tilth, which eases the process of spring tillage and planting. Thompson also appreciates the role cover crops play in managing nutrients, controlling wind and rain erosion, and offering habitat for beneficial insects.