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COVER CROPS

Planting cover crops is a common and rewarding farming practice that was applied as far back as in the Roman Empire. Since then, the method has been widely used in agriculture, bringing a lot of good. Farmers reap a plethora of cover crop benefits that fit versatile objectives, both in the short-term and long-term perspective.

Cover crops help prevent soil erosion, regulate moisture, attract pollinators, assist in weed and pest management, serve as mulch and the source of green manure and organic matter, and are used for grazing or forage. Depending on the types of cover crops, they add or uptake nitrogen.

What Are Cover Crops?
As the name hints, these are plants to cover soils for certain reasons. Unlike primary species, they support secondary farmers’ needs rather than are grown for trade or human consumption. They improve soil health, boost yields, and feed the cattle. However, it does not mean that these plants are some exclusive species. In alternative situations, they serve as cash cultures, and you can find them on the plate as well (for example, buckwheat or corn). The difference is that in the case of fall cover crops, these species are used as grasses.

Farmers plant them in different seasons, either fall or late spring/summer, uniformly or between rows. Some are winter-killed, and some require removal and residue management. They also suggest one species at a time or their mixtures. The latter method is reported to bring more prolific results. Common cover crops are legumes, grasses (forage grains), brassicas, turnips, radishes, etc.

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