Soil health crops – some timely reminders

Many growers have experienced an early harvest this year, creating a wider-than-usual window to establish soil health crops.

In addition, timely rains across much of the country will help speed up germination and establishment, both of which are key to getting the best from these relatively short-lived crops.Soil Health

Whether you are a seasoned grower or trying the concept for the first time, the next few weeks offer a great opportunity to reap the maximum benefit for your soils.

  • Overwintered covers established in the next couple of weeks will have more time to put down roots and develop a good canopy before going into winter
  • Vetch and clovers will have more time to develop root nodules to maximise N fixing
  • Catch crops going in before a winter crop need to be drilled now to make the most of the soil moisture and warm weather
  • If soils remain very dry and there is little chance of rain, delay sowing until conditions improve.


Soil health crops are attracting increasing interest due to their ability to improve soil structure by breaking up compaction, improving drainage and helping raise the organic matter content of the soil.

Species such as oilseed radish produce deep tap roots which can reach down to 1.5-2m given the right conditions. Others such as rye and Japanese oats have more fibrous root systems which work in the upper layers of the soil. Vetches and clovers also condition the soil and help trap N for following crops.

For further information call Helen Wilson on 01799 533714 or email her at