Cover Crops Information

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Shepherds Seeds

We've got together with the guys at Shepherd Seeds to provide some information about cover crops. If you would like any further information get in touch with them direct using one of the links on this page.

About Shepherd Seeds


When choosing a cover crop, it is important to know what you are trying to achieve by using it. Where will it fit in your current cropping rotation? How will you sow it? Will it be drilled or broadcast? And equally as important, how will you incorporate it afterwards? Once you have decided what it is you want to achieve you can begin looking at the various options that will help make it possible. Be sure to choose species that will fit in with your current cropping rotation and avoid those that might cause issues. Correct planning at this stage can make a real difference to the success of a cover crop, so it is important to consider carefully what will work best for you in your own situation.

Shepherd Seeds is an independent small grain seed specialist based Lincolnshire. We supply a wide range of products, to both agricultural and amenity users across the country. Our range of products includes cover crops, game cover, grass seed, wildflowers and environmental mixtures. We deal with a wide range of farm types too, from arable farms in the south and east of the country to livestock farms in the north and west.

At Shepherd Seeds we understand seeing is believing, which is why each year we undertake plot trials to ensure our products meet our customers’ exact needs. The desire for further understanding of new farming concepts, techniques and variety’s drives us on to expand our own knowledge so we can be sure to give our customers the best possible advice.

Soil is complex, there’s no doubt about that. A healthy, well balanced soil is capable of providing a habitat for literally millions of life forms ranging from the easily spotted earthworm to the microscopic free living nematodes we overlook. When a soil has these organisms in the right balance it will be able to quickly break down organic matter, cycle nutrients efficiently and store water better. It is easy to forget that your soil is actually a living, breathing entity that in most cases doesn’t require your input to survive. A well balanced soil is capable of repairing itself, holding key nutrients it needs and shedding those it has in abundance.

As a land owner, taking full responsibility for your soil’s health and viewing it as the base your entire farming system is built upon, will help with the decisions you make. This will change your perspective on inputs and cultivation methods that in the past have been habit rather than necessity. Looking at your soil in this new light now makes all beneficial soil inputs long term soil investments. Cover cropping is one of the key ways that soil health can be improved. It provides a wide range of benefits, from protecting against soil erosion, which has been shown to be the single biggest cause of topsoil loss, to improving a soil’s organic matter content.


Information on Cover Crops

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Black Oats are one of the most popular cover crop options. They are winter hardy, can be sown later than other species and produce large amounts of biomass which helps to smother problem weeds and when incorporated will improve organic matter.

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Forage Rye is a commonly used base component in many mixtures. It grows rapidly and produces large amounts of biomass but is late to mature, so little chance of it becoming a weed issue in future crops.

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Phacelia is quick to establish and has good weed suppressant abilities due to its competitive nature. It will produce an impressive root structure, making it ideal for areas of compaction. Bright purple flowers make it a real benefit to pollinators.

Mustard is a very fast growing. Once sown it is only around eight to ten weeks before it has flowered and set seed. This makes it ideal as a fast catch crop for EFAs but not suitable for longer term cover crops. Some species of mustard are used to control PCN and BCN in rotations containing potatoes and sugar beet. However issues with club root have been noted if mustard is grown in close rotation with another brassica like rape.

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Tillage Radish is well known for its deep rooting ability, making it a popular choice for those wanting to improve drainage or reduce compaction. The radish will also help collect and store nitrogen left over from the previous crop which is then released as the radish decays after incorporation.

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Buckwheat is a fast growing crop that does not tolerate cold spells. This makes it attractive to those wanting a fast growing cover crop that will be incorporated in the late summer.

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Vetch is a popular, fast growing legume that can be sown with a cereal and over winters well. Benefits of vetch include weed suppression and its ability to fix nitrogen in lower soil temperatures than clovers.

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

White Clover is a medium to long term cover crop that is best suited to over seeding. It fixes good levels of nitrogen but can be slow to establish initially - this can be an issue if competition from weeds is likely.

Shepherd Seeds | Black Oats 

Crimson Clover is a short term annual that is often used to provide a quick “kick” of fertility to cereal rotations. It produces a reasonable amount of biomass and has good weed suppression abilities.

Contact Shepherd Seeds

Please contact us for more information

Shepherd Seeds Limited
Walesby Road
Market Rasen
website -
email -
telephone - 01673 308492

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