Cover crops for integrated disease management

Choosing the right cover crop is critical to avoid rotational conflicts and minimise disease risks to the following crops.

To reduce rotational conflicts and disease risks associated with cover crops:

  • Limit brassica cover crops where vegetable brassicas or oilseed rape are grown in the rotation
  • Do not grow brassicas continuously
  • Leave a gap between brassica crops of four to five years (in drier areas) or seven to eight years (in wetter areas)
  • Leave a longer gap if brassicas are grown for two consecutive years
  • Do not use straight cereal cover crops (e.g. oats, rye) ahead of spring barley to avoid yield penalties (use mixes)
  • Consider the effects of green bridges, for example, in legume cover crops grown in rotation with other legumes

Cover crops may also reduce disease risks.

For example, many support microbial communities of non-pathogenic bacteria and fungi that can antagonise pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms.

Glucosinolates in brassica cover crops can also be exploited as biofumigants to manage diseases such as verticillium wilt and rhizoctonia.

Further information

Read more about biofumigation

Visit the integrated pest management (IPM) hub

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