The buckwheat flowers are blossoming! Besides offering a beautiful view, cover crops play a huge role in sustainably managing our land. Buckwheat has been used to help control weeds and build soil health on New England farms for over 400 years!
Cover crops are used in crop rotations to limit soil erosion and slow the runoff of water during heavy rains. They also naturally help suppress weeds while reducing insect pests and diseases in the fields. If our farmers planted the same crop repeatedly on any piece of land, the plants would quickly become a prime target for their specific pests and diseases. By rotating families of plants over the course of several seasons, farmers limit this problem by changing the habitat. A Colorado potato beetle might devour potatoes, tomatoes, or eggplants, but it fees less at home in a field of buckwheat. Diversity strengthens communities in nature and the agricultural fields!
Buckwheat can also act as a “green manure” when the plants are tilled into the soil. The organic matter found in these plants is quickly broken down by earthworms and microorganisms to help build the soil. The plant’s root system also opens up passageways that help air and water move through the soil. At Jones Family Farms, we plant and till buckwheat into pumpkin fields, tree nurseries, and even our Harvest Kitchen garden.
Not only does buckwheat improve the soil, it also offers food and shelter for beneficial insects. Visit any of our buckwheat fields in the early morning and the air vibrates with the sounds of bees, flies, and beetles moving over the little white flowers. The leaves create a home for beneficial insects as they search for pest insects in the fields, while buckwheat flowers provide pollen and nectar for important pollinators. And without pollinators such as honeybees and native bees, we wouldn’t be able to harvest strawberries, blueberries, or pumpkins on the farm. Those buckwheat fields truly keep our farm growing through the seasons.