Cover crops reduce soil erosion by improving soil structure and permeability in addition to providing ground cover as a physical barrier between raindrops and the soil surface. Cover crops also scavenge residual nitrogen left in the soil profile. Cover crops can be seeded in the fall using a variety of methods including drilling after crop harvest, broadcasting after crop harvest, or aerially broadcasting before harvest.
The research summary indicated an average 31% reduction in nitrate (N) concentration with use of a rye cover crop and a 28% reduction with an oat cover crop. Planting a late summer or early fall seeded cover crop can reduce phosphate (P) loss by about 29%.