In agriculture, cover crops are plants that are planted to cover the soil rather than for the purpose of being harvested. Cover crops manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem—an ecological system managed and shaped by humans. Cover crops can increase microbial activity in the soil, which has a positive effect on nitrogen availability, nitrogen uptake in target crops, and crop yields. Cover crops may be an off-season crop planted after harvesting the cash crop. Cover crops are nurse crops in that they increase the survival of the main crop being harvested, and are often grown over the winter. In the United States, cover cropping may cost as much as $35 per acre.
Benefits[edit | edit source]
Cover crops offer many benefits, including:
- Slowing erosion
- Improving soil quality
- Improving the availability of soil moisture and soil nutrients
- Suppressing weeds (a form of weed control
- Helping the control of certain pests
These benefits accumulate over time. Through sustained use in a farming context, they help to reduce costs and improve output, thus increasing profits. By increasing the health of soil and crops, they aid the environmental sustainability and financial sustainability of the farm.
See also[edit | edit source]
Resources[edit | edit source]
Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 2nd Edition - Download this 212 page book free as a PDF file.
"Managing Cover Crops Profitably" explores how and why cover crops work and provides all the information needed to build cover crops into any farming operation. This is the most comprehensive book ever published on the use of cover crops to sustain cropping systems and build soil.