Simply put, a cover crop is a plant grown purposely to protect and enrich the soil during the off season rather than for the purpose of being harvested. Most farmers use cover crops in their crop rotation to protect and rejuvenate the soil. This practice dates back to centuries ago when the Native Americans had a systems of agriculture called "The Three Sisters" that utilized cover crop properties of beans, squash, and corn by planting them together and creating synergy between the crops. Check out our First Acre Program where you can plant a Maya Milpa Garden for yourself and your community. With a cover crop you can naturally improve soil tilth and nutrient content and cut down the need for fertilizers and other chemicals.
How are Cover Crops beneficial? Cover Crops are beneficial in many ways. Here are a few reasons:
1. They manage soil erosion.
2. They enhance water availability.
3. They help control pests and disease through biodiversity.
4. They relieve compaction and improve soil structure.
5. They increase organic matter.
6. They assist in suppressing weed growth.
Furthermore, you can purposely pant Cover Crops to serve as a mulch to cover and assist in suppressing weeds or you can plant cover crops to provide high-quality material for grazing livestock, feeding wildlife or attracting beneficial insects and pollinators.
A common misunderstanding is that cover crops can only be used on a huge plot to be beneficial, but this is not true. You don't need to have a huge piece of land to use a cover crop. The smallest pieces of land can benefit from cover cropping. Using a cover crops in your garden or small plot will give your future crops advantages and keep your garden stunning and bountiful!