Promoting Soil Health Through Cover Crop Implementation

Cover 5
Project Overview

We are so excited by our Cover project and we’ve noticed that within the soil health movement, much of the information on soil health has been geared toward bigger operations. The USDA-NRCS in South Carolina wanted us to partner with farmers who didn’t exactly fit the mold of a big operator, but were primarily small, minority farmers or vegetable/truck crop farmers.

In this project, we partnered with a diverse group of farmers (row crop, vegetable, cattle, conventional, organic, you name it!) who have agreed to cover up to five acres (hence the name Cover5) of their land in cover crops for the next 3 years between their normal cash crop rotation. In the Fall of 2017, we met with 9 farmers who successfully planted cool season cover crops (we got to them really late in November) and many of them were so impressed with cover that they followed it up with a warm season cover on the same land!  Watch and read as we followed these producers over three years and share their stories through blogs and video as we watched how their soils and their mindsets change over the duration of the project!


Let’s be honest, most of the focus of the soil health movement has been on bigger farming operators. We’re here to buck that trend! We’ve partnered up with the USDA-NRCS in South Carolina to feature a diverse group of SC producers who have each agreed to cover five acres of their land in cover crops for three years. Early on we’ve already begun to see both their soils and mindsets change – and we’re just getting started! Follow along with us to watch these stories unfold and to find out the lessons learned along the way!

Bryant and Margaret Harrison

Bryant and Margaret Harrison of Greenville County, SC first used cover crops hoping to control erosion, but they couldn't ignore the other benefits that came with it. The Harrisons found that cover crops not only resulted in increased water infiltration and retention but also helped build up their soil organic matter. Watch these videos to hear the Harrison's story for yourself!

Don Jackson

Before we began our Cover 5 project, we asked each farmer involved to show us their worst-performing plot of land. After all, what better way to display the power of soil health than through taking land no one wants and transforming it back into something productive?! For those still farming conventionally, this bold approach would appear to be destined for failure. But Don Jackson of Laurens County is beginning to experience just what we had in mind.

Nat Bradford

Nat Bradford is an heirloom vegetable farmer in Sumter County, SC. Recently, Nat has transitioned to a more organic style of agriculture and talks with us about the effects thus far and his vision for the future.

Rupert Burrows

What kind of cover crop growth can you expect out of severely degraded soils? Hear what Ruper Burrows, aproducer out of Williamsburg County, SC, found and how his cover crops are not only growing, but improving soil health along the way!

Will Metts

‘When I inherited the land, it was very nutrient depleted and didn’t have much biodiversity. Cover crops, keeping continuous roots in the soil, and keeping the ground covered has greatly amended and increased the organic matter in my soil.’

Hear Greenwood, SC organic farmer Will Metts has transformed depleted soils into land that is teeming with life above and below ground!

John Brabham

When we met John, his five acres were largely defined by sandy soils, weeds, and erosion. Through the use of diverse cover crops, in a short time, the soil and the landscape began to transform! Watch John’s story for yourself here.

The Cover Crop Project has revolutionized the way I approach farming. It has helped me improve soil health and increase crop yields. I am grateful for the valuable insights and resources provided by Soil Health Labs.

John Doe

Farmer, XYZ Farms

Cover Crops FAQs

Find answers to common questions about cover crops and learn more about our project.

What are cover crops?

Cover crops are plants that are grown to protect and improve the soil. They are typically planted after the main crop is harvested and provide a range of benefits such as preventing erosion, enhancing soil fertility, and suppressing weeds.

Why are cover crops important?

Cover crops play a crucial role in soil health and sustainability. They help to reduce soil erosion, increase organic matter content, improve water infiltration, and promote beneficial soil microorganisms. Additionally, cover crops can contribute to climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

How do cover crops work?

Cover crops work by capturing nutrients, preventing soil erosion, and improving soil structure. They have deep root systems that help to break up compacted soil and increase its ability to hold water. Cover crops also release organic matter into the soil as they decompose, enriching it with nutrients.

When should I plant cover crops?

The timing for planting cover crops depends on the region and the specific goals you have for your land. In general, cover crops are planted in the fall after harvest or in early spring before planting the main crop. It's important to consider the climate, soil conditions, and crop rotation when deciding the best time to plant cover crops.

How do I choose the right cover crops?

Choosing the right cover crops depends on various factors such as your soil type, climate, and specific goals. Some common cover crops include legumes like clover and vetch, grasses like rye and oats, and brassicas like radishes and turnips. It's recommended to consult with local agricultural experts or extension services to determine the best cover crops for your specific needs.

Still have questions?

Contact us today!

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