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Cover crops in organic crop cultivation

Code: 9781838796488
Peter Von Fragstein und Niemsdorff, Universität Kassel, Germany

Chapter synopsis: Cover crops (CCs) are close-growing crops providing protection for soil and seeding between periods of normal crop production. They are positioned in rotation between two main or cash crops, and not primarily grown for harvest. Although traditionally CCs have been terminated and incorporated into the soil, the emergence of conservation agriculture and no-till systems has led to greater emphasis on retaining CC residues as a precrop mulch for the following crop. This chapter considers recent research on the benefits of CCs in areas such as erosion and soil structure, nutrient cycling and control of weeds, diseases and pests. It then looks at the broader role of CCs in promoting biodiversity, and their role in carbon sequestration and reducing GHGs. Finally, it discusses some of the challenges in using CCs to optimize crop yields, and presents a number of key questions for the future of this practice.

DOI: 10.19103/AS.2017.0029.04
Table of contents 1 Introduction 2 Soil structure and erosion control 3 Nutrient cycling 4 Weed, pest and disease control 5 Promoting biodiversity 6 Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions 7 Integration of cover crops in no-till cultivation 8 Conclusions and future trends 9 Where to look for further information 10 References

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