Annual rye brings a lot of advantages to a cover crop rotation. Not only does it store nitrogen, it can have a powerful effect on soil structure and soil health. Since it’s such an important crop, one of our clients (the Soil & Water Conservation District of Allen County, Indiana) wanted to include it in a display about how cover crops benefit farmers. So we made a series of artificial cover crop plants for them, including an annual rye model.
As with all of our artificial plants, we designed the annual rye model carefully for maximum realism. Its leaves are short and straight, reflecting how annual rye usually doesn’t get very tall because it’s a grass. And this cover crop model even gives a glimpse into what goes on beneath the soil.
Back to the Roots
Annual rye’s root system is one of its most valuable features. The strong, deep-growing roots loosen the soil, making it easier for the next crop’s roots to grow and helping the soil absorb water better. Some farmers have even reported that it’s easier to drive their equipment over soil planted with annual rye.
At the same time, though, the roots also hold the soil in place and protect it from erosion. That means more nutrients, like phosphorus, stay in the fields until the next growing season.
Because the root system plays such a big role, we made sure to highlight it on the cover crop model. The model offers a cutaway view of the soil, showing how the roots branch out below the plant. The model’s engraved label also explains how annual rye’s roots benefit the soil (and benefit farmers too).
If you’re interested in our other lifelike models of cover crops, check out the full collection here.