Radish is a fodder/green manure crop that breaks through hard, compacted soil layers that have broken many a gardener’s back. It mechanically opens channels for water and roots to penetrate. Softening soils is not the only reason to use radish as a cover between fall and spring. Its deep roots recycle the previous year’s nitrogen, catching it before it leaches out. Seeing that Radish decomposes so quickly in areas where its lifecycle ends naturally, nitrogen is released in time for the next season’s use.
The land should be cleared of weeds before soil preparation, especially perennial weeds. A fine seedbed is essential before broadcasting or drilling the seeds. The planting depth should not exceed 2 cm and the soil should be kept moist to help with germination. Autumn plantings are recommended for the best results, but it can also be planted in Spring.
Fodder Radish is one of the main components in our COVERGRAZETM systems due to its versatility. It has the ability to produce high quality spring feed, but also has all the benefits of a green manure cover crop. It should be cut as green manure before flowering to ensure softer stems, allowing quicker decomposition, retaining more beneficial nutrients and are easier to incorporate into the soil.
Daikon Drilling Radish has the ability to produce a large taproot and penetrate compacted soil layers in an effort to increase soil aeration, water infiltration, decrease compaction and provide better rooting depth opportunities to successive crops. These type of tillage roots do their work right where it is needed, in the soil. It tills and aerates to improve soil structure as it grows.
When its lifecycle ends, its roots add organic matter to the soil in massive amounts, with minimal loss and no mechanical digging required. Considering the cash crop that will be planted next is the first step in developing an effective cover crop management plan. Tillage radish is best suited to proceed summer crops. Ideally the following cash crop will be no tilled into the material of the terminated tillage radish.