Cover crops reduce loss of topsoil, nutrients

(Posted: July 4, 2016)
Soil health workshop in Amberley.

By Jo-Anne Harbinson
Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority

About 50 people, including agricultural producers and industry representatives, attended a Soil Health Day and learned more about the role of cover crops and soil health in reducing soil and nutrient loss. The workshop took place August 25, 2015 near the Grain Elevator in Amberley.

The Pine River Watershed Initiative Network, Parrish and Heimbecker Limited, and the Saugeen and Maitland Valley conservation authorities hosted the demonstration.

The purpose of the workshop was twofold. First, those who took part had a chance to discuss the effectiveness of various cover crops in keeping precious topsoil on the land. Secondly, the workshop showed how this helps maintain good fish habitat and water quality in our local waterways.

Brendan Zettler, of Parrish and Heimbecker, grows various cover crops. Attendees were able to see the soil health benefits from seed mixes, both above and below the ground.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) set up a rainfall soil demonstration unit to show the benefits of cover crop practices in reducing soil loss and runoff. Jo-Anne Harbinson, of Saugeen Conservation, showed how soil structure differs between a tilled and no-till operation. P&H and Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff excavated a soil profile to show how corn roots draw water and nutrients from different soil zones.

The effect of soil compaction, due to equipment passage, was also discussed.

A manure dribbler was also on hand to show participants how a closer ground application could provide a more consistent and effective coverage.

For more information, contact:

Saugeen Conservation:

Maitland Conservation:

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs:

or on Twitter: @ONAgEnviro


Feature Article

Cover crops like those shown in the photo reduce erosion, lessen impacts on water,  and protect and improve soil health.
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Second year of Huron County Clean Water Project's cover crops incentive category surpasses surprising success of first year
Wednesday, July 26, 2017


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