Once established, few other legumes outperform medics in soil-saving, soil-building and—in some systems—forage. Medics earn a place in dryland crop rotations because they provide N while conserving moisture comparable to bare ground fallow.

Quick spring regrowth suppresses early weeds. Good stands of medics in well-drained soil can contribute sufficient residue to build soil organic matter levels.

Green plants, dry plants and burs of burr medic provide good forage, but solid stands can cause bloat in cattle. The burs are concentrated nutrition for winter forage but lower the value of fleece when they become embedded in wool. Annual medics overseeded into row crops or vegetables can be grazed in fall after cash crop harvest.

Medic cover crop
Black medic image