The practice of cover crops is centuries old in India
Everything needs replenishment – even soil. Growing cover crops is the easiest way to replenish farm soil and is becoming popular with farmers as well as those who like to enjoy their kitchen garden produce. Although the practice of cover crops is centuries old in India, it has given way to chemical fertilisers and herbicides. Thankfully, there is a growing realization among the Indian farming community that these quick-fix measures have side effects and may not work very well in the long term – hence the case for cover crops.

cover crops are planted to manage soil erosion, soil fertility, improve its quality, increases water infiltration, while also controlling weeds and pests
Cover crops are also called green manure.

Also called green manure, cover crops are planted to manage soil erosion, soil fertility, improve its quality, increases water infiltration, while also controlling weeds and pests. Basically, cover crops are grown and not harvested. Instead, they are left in the field to complete their life cycle. As a small paper by Dr Lata Sharma points out on ekduniya.net, cover crops are easy to plant and “are categorized as winter cover crops, summer green manure crops, forage crops and catch crops. On the basis of cover crops’ importance, they are classified into three types, viz. grasses, legumes and non-legumes broadleaves.”

Cover crops grasses improve the soil structure with their fine and fibrous root systems

While grasses improve the soil structure with their fine and fibrous root systems, leguminous crops fix nitrogen in the soil and broadleaves crops make soil richer by acting as green manure.  

Centrosema pubescens, which is a perennial climber and smothers weeds


Cover corps yield rich benefits to the patient since this farming shows results only in the long-term. That is why experts advise that it is important to keep in mind to plant the correct crop for specific farming system. 
 
Pueraria Javanica smothers weeds, a good weedicide
Pueraria Javanica smothers weeds and is a good creeper
Cover crops that are ideal for India include Pueraria Javanica that smothers weeds and is a good creeper; Calopogonium mucunoides that is a leguminous creeper and can grow on poor soils; Centrosema pubescens, which is a perennial climber and smothers weeds; and Macuna Bracteata, a wild drought-resistant legume. 

Calopogonium mucunoides replenishes soil


Trees like these crop covers, receive from the sky, the light they need to nourish their foliage, to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, and  to replenish the earth's supply of atmospheric nutrients.






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Bananas growing at Mulvany House, Kolkata. These were planted by us late October 2014

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