The Perception and Use of Cover Crops within the Island of Ireland

Paul Cottney, Paul N. Williams, Ethel White , Lisa Black

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The integration of cover crops within arable rotations is becoming increasingly popular due to their widely acknowledged benefits. Subsidisation of cover cropping is available to eligible farmers in the Republic of Ireland but not to Northern Ireland (NI) farmers. There has been little research focus on ROI and NI growers’ perceptions about the husbandry associated with cover crops and the benefits of growing them.

Surveys to gauge farmer use and perception of cover crops were taken at two arable conferences, with 55 respondents in NI and 77 in ROI (132 respondents in total). Growers used cover crops mainly to improve and maintain soil structure in an overall bid to enhance soil health in ROI, whereas in NI it was predominantly for forage. The impact of subsidies provided by Ireland and its stipulated policy influences species choice, and farmers were more likely to plant cover crops after later harvested commercial crops, e.g. September. Compared to growers in NI, who were found predominantly to plant after crops harvested in August. In ROI, 63% of respondents receiving subsidies would continue to use cover crops if this monetary incentive ceased.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Early online date05 May 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 May 2021


  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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