Cover crops might seem like some extra unnecessary farm management work to keep your fields looking green and busy, but there are more benefits to cover crops than you may think…
When your fields lay empty for months on end, their topsoil naturally starts to erode. This depends on the climate and geography of your farm. In some parts of Nigeria, you could have howling winds and torrential rain battering your farm for weeks on end, or droughts that suck the life from the fields.
Some particular cover crops offer shelter to your fields and protect the nutritious topsoil you need for growing those desirable crops later in the year. The best crops for this job are ones with a well-developed root system to hold onto that valuable topsoil
Wheat: This is a crop that is available in several variations and grows easily nationwide that you could use to cover your fields. They are dense enough to cover and protect your fields while being easy to remove
You might be noticing weeds popping up over your empty fields as time goes by – while technically they could be helping to reduce erosion, they also bring a range of other problems. Primarily, they could be taking up all the specific nutrients you need for growing your crops in the next season. They may even be toxic weeds or be attracting harmful pests: these could linger and damage your crops later in the year.
The best, natural way to suppress weeds without the use of harmful chemicals is to plant cover crops. The best crops for suppressing weeds are ones that can cover a vast area and will quickly outgrow weeds. Broad leaves with a high surface area and greater root networks may be beneficial in overpowering weeds.
Sudan grass: and sorghum-sudan hybrids are fastgrowing summer annuals that produce a lot of growth in a short time. Because of their vigorous nature, they are good at suppressing weeds.
Fertilizing your soil takes up precious time when sowing your best crops – but it’s worth it, especially when it means your crops will perform better than ever and turn a great profit. What if there was a more efficient, environmentally friendly way to improve the balance of nutrition in your soil?
By carefully picking the correct cover crops you can manage the nutritious level of your fields so they are perfect for your crops later in the year. It really depends on what nutrients you need in the soil but these crops are usually good general cover crops for healthy soil management.
Cowpea: This is a good leguminous crop that fixes Nitrogen into the soil. It is deep-rooted and can do well in droughty conditions.
When fields are unused they’re not making you money. What’s worse is if you need to spend money maintaining your fields when there are no crops growing in them at all. It’s always wise to keep a pot of savings for over those empty months, but wouldn’t you rather be making money during this time too?
Some cover crops can be fairly valuable and while they won’t be worth as much as your desirable crops later in the year, they can still turn a small profit to help keep you going. The most valuable cover crops are the ones that can either be sold for profit now or feed money into your produce later in the year.
Soybeans, usually grown as an economic crop for their oil and protein-rich seeds, also can serve as a summer cover crop if allowed to grow until flowering. They require a fertile soil for best growth. However, unlike cowpea, they do not add much in the way of lasting residues or nitrogen.