Planting cover crops is a common and profitable farming method that dates back to the Roman Empire. Since then, the strategy has been widely used in agriculture and has given rise to many benefits. Farmers enjoy a variety of benefits for cover crops that meet a variety of goals, both short- and long-term. A cover crop is a type of plant produced primarily for the benefit of the soil rather than for crop production.
Cover crops are frequently use to control weeds, manage soil erosion, increase soil fertility and quality, control diseases and pests and encourage biodiversity. Cover crops serve as mulch, as a source of green manure and organic matter, and uses for grazing or forage. They also help prevent soil erosion, regulate moisture, attract pollinators, control weeds, and pests, serve as a source of green manure and organic matter, and are helpful for grazing or forage.
What Is Cover Crop?
Cover crops are usually grasses or legumes, although they can also be different types of green vegetation. As a rule, a crop covering is planted in the off-season before the cash crop is planted in the field.
As the name suggests, they are plants that are helpful to cover soils for various reasons. Unlike primary species, they grow to meet the needs of secondary farmers, and not for trade or human consumption. They promote the health of the soil, increase cultivation and provide the cattle with feed.
However, this does not mean that these plants represent unique species. They can be used as currency cultures in other contexts, and they can even be found on the plate (for example, buckwheat or corn). The difference is that these plants are used as grasses in autumn cover crops. The basic types of cover crops are grasses, legumes, broadleaf non-legumes. Rye, Buckwheat, Clover, hairy vetch, and sorghum are examples of cover crops.
Benefits Of Cover Crops
Following is a benefits list of cover crops:
1. Nematode Control
The use of certain cover cropping can help control crop pests and soil pests. Natural biochemicals emitted by some species inhibit the growth of nematodes by causing eggs to hatch prematurely in the absence of a suitable food source. This deprives them of food and disrupts their reproductive cycle. Soil-borne pests can also be mitigate by biofumigation, which occurs when certain species release large amounts of glucosinates into the soil.
2. Organic Gardening
Cover crops are an important aspect of a long-term agricultural strategy. These crops use biological nitrogen fixation to add fertility to the soil without using chemical fertilizers. A cover crop can minimize soil compaction, control soil moisture, reduce total energy consumption, and provide additional feed to livestock in a natural way.
Smallholder farmers choose cover crops based on their needs and aspirations, as well as the general requirements of the land they farm. Summer cover crops commonly use to fill gaps during crop rotations, improve the soil and reduce weeds.
3. Water Management
The use of cover crops improves water infiltration. If a field lies fallow for an extended period, the surface seals and the water flows. Cover crops protect the soil surface, minimize soil sealing and help moist soils to drain better. Cover crops add organic matter to the soil profile, which can help retain moisture in the next crop.
4. Conserve Soil Moisture
During droughts, residues from destroyed cover crops promote water penetration and reduce evaporation, resulting in less water stress. Cover crops that are lightly incorporated have a dual purpose. They collect surface water and bring the organic matter to improve the infiltration of the root zone.
Grass-type cover crops, such as rye, wheat, and a sorghum-sudangrass hybrid, are particularly excellent for covering the soil surface.
If a cover crop is fully developing or if a farmer wants to plant in an area where there is a catch crop, the traditional method is to mow it and let it dry. Organic residues are often plough into the soil after drying.
In drought-prone sites, some progressive farmers prefer a no-till strategy where the catch crop residues remain on the soil as a layer of mulch.
6. Nitrogen Contribution
Legumes can significantly increase the amount of nitrogen available in the soil. You can use Non-legumes to absorb excess nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium from previous crops and make them available for subsequent harvest.
When fresh plant material decomposes, beneficial soil organisms such as earthworms and microorganisms thrive. By adding catch crops, the content of organic matter can significantly improving.
7. Organic Matter And Soil Structure
Adding organic matter to the soil is a major benefit of green manure. Decomposition-resistant compounds produce during the degradation of organic matter by microorganisms such as rubber, waxes, and resins. However, A highly aggregate floor is easy to work with, has a high rate of water infiltration, and is well ventilate. Increasing levels of organic matter have an impact on soil humus.
8. Weed Suppression
By observing the soil, a dense stock of the right catch crops can reduce weeds. In some species, allelopathic properties are observing, which naturally limit the development of weeds. Moreover, Allelopathy is the positive (or harmful) effect of one plant on another plant, both crops and weed species, through the chemical release of plant parts (through leaching).
9. Soil Microbial Activity
After the introduction of a relatively lush young green manure plant into the soil, a rapid increase in soil microorganisms occurs. Microbes in the soil multiply to attack the newly inserted plant material. The nutrient contains in the plant tissue are released during microbial decomposition and made available to the next culture.
10. Fastest Growth
Catch crops often grow in the late stages of the growing season. Therefore, cover crop species that establish themselves early and accumulate biomass quickly are critical to achieving your catch crop goals.
The publication summarizes the effects of cover crops and green manure on soil organic matter and structure, nitrogen production, soil microbial activity, nutrient enhancement, root effect, weed suppression, and soil and water conservation to convey the importance of these practices in sustainable agriculture. Vegetation management, cover crop restrictions, use in crop rotation, insect management, and the economy of cover crops are some of the management issues.