Cover crops to prevent wind erosion (land under centre pivot irrigation)

  • Fact sheet
  • August 2015
cover-cropping-wind-erosion
Cover crops can provide economic returns and reduce soil loss.

Each cover crop has optimal sowing rates, fertiliser and cultural requirements and these vary depending on the site. In order to meet the requirements for soil cover, cover crops should not be grazed or cut hard.

The timing of sowing and harvesting differs between crops and growers. It depends on factors such as regional conditions, markets, and seasonal effects such as soil temperature. As a result, there are centre pivot irrigated crops being planted or harvested throughout the entire year, therefore growers require a range of soil management options to suit all times of the year.

  Season  Grain Hay grazing Drought tolerance Frost
tolerance
Waterlog tolerance

Barley

Resilient straw. Will grow on rundown soils. Less hay/grazing value than oats or vetch. 

 Winter

Yes

Yes

Good

Good

Fair

Triticale

A useful dual purpose grain or grazing crop. Resilient straw.

 Winter

Yes

Yes

Good

Very good

Fair

Oats

Better hay/grazing value than other winter cereals. Range of varieties available with different growth habits and maturities.

 Winter

 Yes

Yes

Good

Good

Fair

Vetch

Better hay/grazing value than winter cereals. Improves soil fertility. Easy to establish and quick growing. Less resilient straw.

 Winter

Yes

Yes

 Fair

Good

 Poor

Forage legumes

May withstand multiple grazing. Improves soil fertility. Less resilient straw.

 Summer

No

Yes

Good

Fair

Poor 

Forage sorghum

If sufficient soil moisture available, should not require additional irrigations. Rapid growth. Resilient straw. Good hay/grazing value. Risk of Prussic Acid poisoning if grazed although this is rare. Not tolerant of soil acidity.

Salt tolerance: good
Soil temp: 16°C

 Summer

No

Yes

Very good

 Poor

Poor

Grain sorghum

Rapid growth. Resilient straw. If sufficient soil moisture available, should not require additional irrigations. Not tolerant of soil acidity. Small market.

Salt tolerance: good
Soil temp: 15°C

 Summer

Yes

No

Very good

 Poor

Good

Corn

Wider planting window than sorghum. Less pest and disease problems than sorghum. Normally fetches higher prices than sorghum in the feed market. Can tolerate light frosts in early stages of growth. High temperatures at tasselling, silking and pollination need to be avoided. Very resilient straw.

Soil temp: 10°C

 Summer

 Yes

 No

 Good

 Good in early growth stages

 

Temperate millets

Will grow on poorer soils. Better feed value than forage sorghum. Resilient straw.

Soil temp: 16°C

 Summer

No

Yes

Good

Poor

 Good

Safflower

Wider planting window than other summer crops. Will tolerate frost early but susceptible to frost damage during stem elongation and branching. Small market.

Salt tolerance: moderate
Soil temp: 10°C

 Summer

 Yes

No

Very good

 see notes

 

Sunflower

Wider planting window than other summer crops. Reasonable frost tolerance as a seedling but susceptible to frost damage from 6th leaf stage to flowering. Reasonable heat and drought tolerance as a mature plant. Less soil cover than other crops. Avoid acidic soils.

Soil temp: 10°C

 Summer

Yes 

No 

 

 see notes 

 

More information

Speak to an irrigation consultant or your product distributor to find out how best to meet your requirements. We have developed a range of factsheets to assist you with irrigation management. See the related links below.

Related links