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In this graph, we compare the soil organic matter at 209 tilled sites with the number of days of living cover on the site. The red trend line shows that as days of living cover increase, soil organic matter also increases.
Living vegetation protects soil from wind and water erosion while also supplying the soil with fresh organic matter and feeding the soil microbiome. Linking together crops and cover crops to maximize days of living cover is a fundamental soil building practice. Our data shows that with more days of living cover (i.e. more crops and cover crops linked together and less days of bare soil during a calendar year), soil organic matter, organic carbon, microbially active carbon and the percentage of fungi in soil all tend to increase.
Elizabeth Black is the producer of the Citizen Science Soil Health Project