Benefits of Cereal Grains
Cereal grains include winter rye, winter wheat, spring and fall triticale, barley and oats. Cereal grains have an extensive list of benefits and uses. They are perhaps the least expensive and easiest to grow whitetail food sources that we can plant. Grains can be utilized in several ways. Cereal grain cover crops make great food sources for whitetails and can be tilled under as green manure to build organic matter in the soil. They are valuable weed and pest suppressors and preserve our soils from wind and water erosion. In addition to reducing topsoil erosion and improving soil structure, small grain cover crops enhance nutrient recycling in your farming system by taking up nutrients that might otherwise leach out of the soil profile. These excess nutrients have the potential to pollute groundwater or local streams and ponds. Of the excessive nutrients in the soil, nitrogen in the nitrate form is the most water soluble and is the most vulnerable to leaching. Anytime soil is bare and rain falls, nitrates are on the move to ground water. Excessive nitrates can be in the soil at the end of a cropping season, especially if the previous crop did not utilize the nitrogen applied during the growing season. Decomposing organic matter is also a nitrate source. This organic matter includes plant residue, compost and animal manures.