Cover crops can boost your profits the first year you plant them. They can improve your bottom line even more over the years as their soil-improving effects accumulate. Other benefits reducing pollution, erosion and weed and insect pressure may be difficult to quantify or may not appear in your financial statements. Identifying these benefits, however, can help you make sound, long-term decisions for your whole farm.
What follows are some important ways to evaluate the economic and ecological aspects of cover crops. These significant benefits vary by location and season, but at least two or three usually occur with any cover crop.
- Cut fertilizer costs
- Reduce the need for herbicides and other pesticides
- Improve yields by enhancing soil health
- Prevent soil erosion
- Conserve soil moisture
- Protect water quality
- Help safeguard personal health
Evaluate a cover crop’s impact as you would any other crop, balancing costs against returns in all forms. Don’t limit your calculations, however, to the target cover crop benefit. A cover often has several benefits. Many cover crops offer harvest possibilities as forage, grazing or seed that work well in systems with multiple crop enterprises and livestock.
(Source – http://www.northcentralsare.org/Educational-Resources/Books/Managing-Cover-Crops-Profitably-3rd-Edition/Text-Version/Benefits-of-Cover-Crops)