A lush and productive cultivated field begins with fertile soil since plants need nutrients and conducive growing conditions as other living organisms. The soil is fertile when it has the ability to provide all the nutrients essential for plant growth and nourishment. Applying manure and fertilizer at the time of sowing to fine-tune soil fertility is certainly an important part of plant management practices, but it is no substitute for good agronomic management. To achieve a significant result from the management practices, all the other factors such as the use of legume cover crops, tillage, weed control, and crop rotation needs to be in line. In this article, we will discuss cover crop and their use in soil fertility.

A cover crop is any non-cash crop grown in the off-season before the cash crop for the benefit of the soil. Improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, control weed, increase water infiltration, manage soil moisture, and provide fodder for livestock.

Popular cover crops such as Buckwheat, rye, field peas, barley, pearl millet, winter wheat, and other fast-growing grasses are used to feed the soil organisms, encourage the microbial activities in the soil and support the entire food chain in soil. Cover crop increases the number of earthworms to create channels for roots, water, and air movements in the soil and other profound benefits, like better soil nutrient management, improved soil structure, and reduced soil erosion.

How to choose the best cover crops for your field?

Although implementing a successful cover crop depends on the factors such as objectives, site, timing, and cropping history of the field, the cover crops should have the following factors.

They should be fast-growing crops and short life span plants and naturally die down before the cash crop.

These crops should be easily killable by mechanical approaches forming mulch.

Should produce a lot of biomass and dry matter above the ground.

Crops having favourable effects on the level of N, P, and K.

Crops that does not have pest, disease, or weed management issues.

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