This book will not serve as the "encyclopedia of cover crop management," but it’s close. The benefits of a wide range of individual cover crops and blends/mixes for specific agronomic crop rotations and geographic locations are included. Descriptions, photographs, and illustrations show how cover crops look in the field, including plant height, leaf architecture, and rooting patterns. Long term benefits are described for soil health, soil structure, water quality, nutrient contributions, soil biodiversity, air quality and climate change.
In addition to the "whys" of cover crop use, the book includes details on the "hows:" how to choose cover crops for specific applications and locations; how (and when) to plant; how to manage and maintain the cover for maximum benefit; and how and when to terminate.
Planting options include: drilling/planting between rows of an agronomic crop at planting time, or when the crop is short (i.e. corn in early June); "aerial" seeding with an airplane or high-clearance machine shortly before the crop reaches maturity; and drilling/planting immediately after harvest of the agronomic crop. Selected cover crops (blends) can help with pest and disease management.
Cover crops are an economic input with an expected return on investment, similar to pesticides and fertilizer. As part of a continuous no-till system, cover crops provide long-term biological, chemical and structural benefits. The resulting increase in soil organic matter means the agronomic crop yields benefit from better water infiltration and water holding capacity, greater availability of nitrogen and other nutrients, deeper rooting, and increased soil microbial activity in the root zone.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Cover Crops
Rafiq Islam, Nataliia Didenko, and Bradford Sherman
Benefits of Cover Crops on Agronomic Crop Yield
Potential and Challenges of Growing Cover Crops in Organic Production Systems
Sutie Xu, Sindhu Jagadamma, Renata Nave Oakes, Song Cui, Erin Byers, and Zhou Li
Cover Crops in Vegetable Production and Urban Farming in Sub-Saharan Countries
Michael Kwabena Osei, Mavis Akom, Joseph Adjebeng-Danquah, Kenneth Fafa Egbadzor, Samuel Oppong Abebrese, Kwabena Asare Bediako and Richard Agyare
Algorithms to optimize cropping diversity with cover crops
Romashchenko M., Matiash T. , Bohaienko V., Kovalchuk V., and Lukashuk V.
Sustainable suppression of weeds through ecological use of cover crops
Shawn T. Lucas
Cover crops for pests and soil-borne disease control and insect diversity
Nataliia Didenko, Vira Konovalova, Somayyeh Razzaghi, Alimata Bandaogo, Sougata Bardhan, and Alan Sundermeier
Cover Crops for Forages and Livestock Grazing
Cover crops’ effect on soil quality and soil health
M. A. Rahman
Cover Crops for Orchard Soil Management
Biswajit Das, B.K. Kandpal and H. Lembisana Devi
Cover Crop Mixes for Diversity, Carbon, and Conservation Agriculture
Reicosky, D.C., Ademir Calegari, Danilo Rheinheimer dos Santos, and Tales Tiecher
Cover crops and soil nitrogen cycling
Nitu, T.T., U.M. Milu, and M.M.R. Jahangir
Effect of Cover Crops on Soil Biology
Harit K. Bal
Cover cropping improves soil quality and physical properties
Cover Crops Effects on Soil Erosion and Water Quality
Beenish Saba and Ann D. Christy
Effects of cover crops on greenhouse gas emissions
Cover crops influence soil microbial and biochemical properties
Economics of Cover Crops
Mohammad S. Rahman and James J. Hoorman
Rafiq Islam is the Director of the Soil, Water, and Bioenergy Resources Program at The Ohio State University South Centers, Ohio, USA. He has over 30 years of academic and research experience on soil and water quality, cover crops, conservation tillage, marginal land, and biofeedstock production. Dr. Islam is a Fulbright teaching scholar and has published over100 journal articles; written several factsheets, manuals, and book chapters; and edited two books.
Bradford Sherman is a publications editor with The Ohio State University, where his responsibilities include writing, editing, and the design of various publications within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). With over 14 years of writing and editing experience; he handles the distribution of a CFAES newsletter; has edited books, journal articles, and Extension education materials for national and international audiences.