Cover crops are the crops which are grown to improve soil health, slow soil erosion, and enhance water availability rather than for harvest and commercial use. These crops are generally not harvested and stay in the field for their life span to cover the soil and which in turn helps in improving soil health. These crops are planted a few months before the planting of cash crops. In this way, these crops help the soil in regaining its fertility for the upcoming cash-crop season. Sometimes, these crops are planted to use the idle field to as not to turn it into a fallow field and maintain the soil’s health. There are many crops which fall under the category of cover crops like legumes, cereals, grasses and many others. Major crops like red clover, peas, beans, wheat, oats, millets, and buckwheat often act as cover crops.
Cover crops help in extra absorbing the carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and sequestering it in the soil, which helps to mitigate climate change. In the studies, it is found that cover crops can sequester the emissions of 13 million vehicles per year. But this can only be possible if the cover crops are supplemented with the zero-tillage technique which can help in claiming more climate benefits.
The long, stabilized root system of cover crops acts as a tool for improving soil quality. As cover crops act as blankets which helps in reducing soil runoff and soil erosion by blocking the unwanted soil movement by forces like water and wind. Cover crops also help in increasing the organic content of the soil which enhances the fertility of soil and texture.
These crops are resilient to the impacts of climate change by enhancing the ability of soil to absorb rainwater and locking it’s moisture. This way these crops are even more resilent to droughts, and floodings. Since Cover crops enhance the water water-holding capacity this way soil erosion by water can be prevented. The increase in organic content of soil reduces the dependence on fertilizers and helps in preventing chemical leaching, and groundwater pollution. This way cost of fertilizers is saved and helps in tackling the diseases spread by heavy use of fertilizers in food crops.
By supplementing the cover crops with crop rotation techniques, pests' life cycles can be influenced and be used for eliminating the losses incurred by pests. This can help reduce the costs of pesticides and insecticides and control diseases that emerged from their uses. One of the best examples of this technique is planting a cerel crops rye which is a cover crop and acts as a non-host for pests this way the other crops are saved from the attacks of pests.
Source: The Pharma Innovation Journal
Last Modified : 6/23/2022