Latin Name: Avena Sativa Common Name: oats Type: cool season, annual cereal Pros: improve soil health, suppress weeds, prevent erosion, scavenge excess nutrients, affordable biomass, spring green manure Mix with: peas
Oats grow very quickly in cool weather and are a great choice for a rotating cover crop in the spring and fall. Oats provide a quick, weed-suppressing biomass that helps protect the soil from rainfall and wind erosion.
Oats will winterkill with a hard frost providing an excellent soil-protecting mulch and insulator. This proves to be very beneficial for early spring planting for two reasons. For those that want to pursue no-till, oats can be cut and left on the beds/field creating a great cover that will outcompete weeds. The other option is to till under the oats where they will decompose fairly quickly, creating green fertilizer.
*Take note that it is very important to wait at least two-three weeks after the oats have been killed off before planting your next crop. Oats provide a residue called allelopathic that can delay germination of many weeds and other crops.
Below ground, the roots will hold the soil in place during active erosion while simultaneously
creating channels throughout the soil allowing for the increase of water flow from aboveground to the subsurface. This process is known as infiltration.
Fun Fact: The oldest known cultivated oats were found in caves in Switzerland. They are believed to belong to the Bronze Age (3300 BCE to 1200 BCE). BCE is short for Before Common Era.