The process or the steps that involve growing unuseful crops (can not be harvested) environmentally beneficial crops that boost soil fertility. Additionally speaking, these kinds of crops are grown periodically in the season in which core cultivation of the soil is not growing. These periods are called off-seasons or post-harvest times of core cash crops. Furthermore, primarily cover crops are meant to increase and/or retain soil fertility and build and increase soil’s organic matter by breaking down complex organic compounds. Additionally, the method of cover cropping also enhances the concentration of soil nutrients. In addition to the above facts, cover crops help reduce pests, weeds and diseases in the cropland. Furthermore, they also increase biodiversity in the ecosystem. Henceforth, increase soil’s health by aiding insects and animals.
The method of cover cropping is important to promote biodiversity in the ecosystem, and more importantly, it also encourages an organic and sustainable increase in soil fertility and overall health. Henceforth, this method is mostly popular in increasing crop productivity and yield for the target cropland. Further speaking, cover crops are essential for reversing and/or reducing climate change by the deposition of carbon compounds into the soil. Henceforth, these crops have an immense ability to break down CFCs (Chlorofloro Carbons) and thereby reduce their impact on the nearby environment.
Henceforth, in this blog, we will put efforts into lifting the concerns over soil fertility by cover cropping. Furthermore, we will also discuss the choice to make. Therefore, stay tuned till the end.
Related: The top benefits of using an organic fertilizer?
What are the benefits of cover crops?
There are many benefits of cover cropping. Below given bullet points represent projections of the same.
1. Enhances soil’s fertility and health
The method of cover cropping includes processes that ensure the prevention of soil erosion, enhancements in the tilth and structure of the soil, and increased decomposed organic matter. Henceforth, cropland that has served a significant amount of time in cover cropping needs fewer artificial fertilisers.
2. Reduces soil erosion and water run-off
Cover crops, in this case, act as a perfect cover partner in preventing the soil from unwanted soil erosion due to heavy rainfall and fast winds. Furthermore, acting as a water sink, these also help in improving groundwater levels.
Related: Types of farming in India: Procedure, Benefits and Role.
3. Increase in biodiversity
While cover cropping, the plant’s involved act as shelters for beneficial insects, microbes and nutrient-fixing animals. Furthermore, pollinators and pest predators also inhabitant with the cover crops. Henceforth boosting the overall ecosystem.
4. Enhanced yield and profitability
As we’ve already mentioned in previous paragraphs, cover crops reduce pests, diseases, and weeds. Henceforth, decreasing the use of artificial fertilisers and improving fertility at the same time. This aids in cash advantage and hence improves crop yield and total gain secured through it.
A Must-Read: 6 Tips to Get High Yield During Planting Season.
How does cover cropping work?
After the plantation of cover crops, the growing roots in the soil break up the compact top layer. Thereby creating air and water passages. Furthermore, these release organic compounds that act as a feed for the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Henceforth helping to decompose organic matter into nutrients. Furthermore, with the growth of cover crops, nutrients in the soil are absorbed. Thus, preventing them from leaching out with flowing water.
Keeping usability in mind, the cover crops, at the end of their period, are tilled, mowed, or killed using herbicides. Further, these are left to decompose into the soil. Henceforth, increasing nutrients in the top layer of soil. Furthermore, this process helps in improving the water retention capabilities of the soil, soil structure, and nutrient availability for the cash crop.
Further speaking, the types of cover crops include legume cover crops (e.g. clover, peas, etc.) and grass cover crops (e.g. rye, oats, etc.). While legume-cover cropping helps fix nitrogen in the soil, grass-cover cropping prevents weed growth and soil erosion and restores nutrients.
Discussing challenges using cover crops in India
Although having so many advantages, these crops have the below disadvantages when we speak of south-east Asian countries such as India.
1. Cost and management challenges
The sad part of the method cover cropping is it is costly to seed and manage these crops. Furthermore, these require all the necessary steps needed in agricultural cultivation without resulting in any harvest.
2. Availability of time and logistics
The season of cover cropping demands proper care and covers an ample amount of a farmer’s time. Furthermore, avoiding time crashes with cash crops is also a challenge. Henceforth, this constraint can be a challenge for those who have thin time limits between cash crops.
3. Weather and climate constraints
Further speaking, weather and time can equally affect the growth and development of cover crops. Furthermore, in the case of extreme weather such as drought, flood, and extreme temperatures in summer and winter seasons may also affect the growth of these crops.
The Important One: Negative Impact Of Climate Change on Agriculture.
4. Diseases and pest management
In addition to the above facts, cover cropping is not vaccinated against diseases and pests. Henceforth, the solution has the potential to become a problem. Mind it.
Talking about the above concerns in adopting cover crops and the method of cover cropping, we mentioned it so that farmers can make more informed decisions on the subject.
Unwrapping it: A recap plus CTA for farmers
This blog has put forth the benefits of cover cropping, and more importantly, it has also discussed the choice to make. Furthermore, as acknowledged experts, we would like to encourage farmers to consider cover crops in their farming system. The crops can significantly reduce dependence on artificial fertilisers and pesticides. To get started with cover cropping, we recommend calling 1800-180-1551 (Kisan Call Centre), launched by GoI. Conclusively speaking, cover crops can help farmers both in the long term and short term. Furthermore, they can prove useful to the ecosystem and environment as well.