Cover crops for soil fertility

Hello all,

I was just gazing at a few different articles and noticed one that mentioned the ability of soil to become more fertile during winter months.  The key to this addition of fertility is the cover crop planted prior to the cold season.  The Mother Earth News article says, “if planted early enough to put on good growth before cold weather sets in, cover crops prevent erosion, protect soil microbes, out-compete cool-season weeds and build soil fertility.”  The attributes of planting a cover crop are numerous and can create the soil that any farmer dreams of.  Just the fact that growing the crop in order to cover the ground in aims to successfully prevent erosion is tremendous relief for environmental impacts of streams and rivers.  Sediment is the number one pollutant in our streams here in Mecklenburg County.  Any means of preventing erosion is necessary in order to keep our streams and aquatic life at a sustaining level.

The goals of growing enough food in an environmentally friendly way can be achieved through proper methods involving sustainable farming practices.  The ideal plants used for cover crops are plants that can use minimum nutrients, but also put back nutrients into the ground is something vital to the creation of fertile soil for the coming growing seasons.  Any form of legumes or bean plants generally put back nitrogen into the soil by fixating it out of the air and transforming it into a usable form for the plants.

Farming is different based on geology and therefore certain plants are suggested for certain regions of the world.  In the U.S. certain crops thrive in the north that normally wouldn’t be recommended for the south.  The article suggests using oats and barley to grow in the northern regions of the U.S.  As for the south, the break period in the hot summer extremes cause farmers to take a break from growing crops.  The recommended crop for this period is buckwheat.  Buckwheat grows quickly and prefers hotter growing conditions, perfect for the hot sun in the south.  During the few cold months in the southern U.S. oats and barley are recommended but, you must turn them over to die before they go to seed.

Not only does the soil benefit from these plants as they grow, but also when they are turned over or die out from the harsh winter weather, these soils begin to decompose.  The decomposition of the plant places a layer of mulch on the soil that further protects it from erosion.  Soils can be revived if proper practices were used to mend the soil rather than abuse it.

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One Response to Cover crops for soil fertility

  1. Pingback: MePregnant

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