Cover crops are used in arable rotations to protect the soil between cash crops (e.g. wheat, barley). Cover crops need to be removed before cash crops can be planted, and this is commonly done by spraying environmentally-harmful herbicides. Here, we conducted a large-scale field trial to test whether using cover crops that die naturally in the frost is better for earthworms, spiders, and beetles, and associated ecosystem functions (e.g. soil compaction). The aim is to design and test the ecological benefits of cover crop mixes that can be removed with minimal herbicide use. This experiment was co-designed with 15 farmers, LEAF, and Oakbank.
Dr Amelia (Millie) Hood is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Reading. She's interested in co-designing sustainable farming solutions with farmers in the UK, and using large ecological experiments to test them.
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