Example of Cover Crop – What is Cover Crop

. “Cover Crops” Referred to crops that are set within the “Crop Top” in order to protect the soil from degradation by weathering and provide organic fertilizers
are also Cover Crops which are set to cover soil during the “Fallow”. Green manures are examples of these crops, which also serve to cover the soil, we incorporate organic matter to the soil, increasing its fertility.
Characteristics of species to establish cover crops:

  • Rapid growth.
  • Little demand for water, large root system. Minimal competition with the crop in terms of water and nutrients.
  • Adaptability to poor soils.
  • Extensive vegetative development, high volume of green biomass, which will cover the largest possible area of ​​land.
  • Appropriate to the climatic characteristics of the region pedo.
  • Resistant to pests and diseases. If established as companion crops, it should be noted than reservoirs pests affecting the main culture.
  • The nitrogen fixing legumes are excellent ground cover crops, pasture species, tubers (potato) and cucurbits are also used.
  • Easy to control, to prevent them from becoming undesirable plants.
  • Should be minimal competition with the main crop.
  • Some crop residues can be used as soil covers.

Effect on the floor:

  • Protect soils degrading action of weathering agents (superficial erosions by runoff, wind erosion, degrading actions by direct solar radiation, etc..
  • It acts as a regulator of water regime of soils, significantly reduce water loss by evaporation in these.
  • It prevents the growth of undesirable plants, adjusts the solar radiation and act on their degradation as herbicides.
  • Improves soil fertility by the input of organic matter and nitrogen and other nutrients.
  • Facilitates the development of micro and macro organisms in the soil which allows improvement of their physical properties, their biological activity.
  • Accelerates the decomposition of organic matter in soils, helping to balance positive nitrogen carbon, raising its humuficación.
  • Promotes positive conditions for the development of macro and micro beneficial organisms that act as natural enemies of pests and other agents that cause various diseases.

Most used in Cuba (citrus crops) Species:
(Taken from the Organic Agriculture Magazine No 1 2008).

  • Clitoria ternatea
  • Guianenses Stylosantehes
  • Arachis pintoi
  • Teramnus lip
  • Alisicarpus vaginalis
  • Canavalia ensiformis
  • Phaseolus lunatus
  • Pubescens
  • Demodium sp
  • Alisicarpus vaginalis

Main results in citrus plantations.

  • Decreased density and soil plasticity.
  • Increased porosity, moisture and structural stability coefficient.
  • Increase the infiltration rate.
  • Further development of the root systems of plantations.
  • Increasing values ​​of the chemical properties of the soil (pH, content of MO, P, K)

(Guava plantation development (8 months after planting) in lateritic red soil, cover with shredded cane bagasse)
Combined effect of the action of cover crops with manure application
Practical experiences in our plantations with the combination of solid organic fertilizers: worm castings, compost and cow estiercos dose of 1.0 kg/m2, bio fertilizers: Liquid Humus and compost tea in doses of 100 lt / ha applications monthly. In all cases, the time of application of solid manure, must be matched with the incorporation of green manure to soils. These applications have shown that the combined action of organic fertilizers and bio fertilizers with green manures, increases the efficiency of this practice to accelerate the degradation of these green manure, incorporate Mays amount of nutrients to the soil, significantly increase the biological activity in this , obtaining as final results, increases in production area by 15% higher when compared to controls where only green manures were incorporated.
General results obtained

  • Considerable improvements in the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the soil and hence fertility.
  • Decline in crop cultivation such as weeding ..
  • Decrease by 50% of irrigation.
  • Decreased incidence of pests and diseases.
  • Increased flowering, fruit set and fruit.
  • Most of fruits per plant.
  • Increased yields per area.
  • Higher quality of the fruit.
  • Obtaining additional productions for use as a hedge crop, productive species such as sweet potatoes, squash, beans and beans.
  • More efficient use of soil and water resources.
  • Saving labor and energy carriers.
  • More positive by decreasing expenses and increasing income economic balance.

By: Mr. Medardo Naranjo Valdés. Technical Assistant. UBPCs Vivero Alamar.


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