Description of practice

Cover crops are crops planted after the harvest of the primary crop or as an understorey between crops. They are used primarily to manage soil erosion but may also increase soil organic matter, improve water infiltration and provide species diversity in the cropping system.

Examples of how to use cover crops Further information
(see Note below)

AMP25 01

Cover crop in maize

Cover crops are planted between rows of a maize crop with the primary aim of improving or maintaining ecosystem quality.


»WOCAT technology 1325

AMP25 02

Cover crops in organic vineyard

Minimum tillage with rye (Secale cereale) and false brome (Brachypodium distachyon) used as cover crops protects the soil against erosion and increases soil organic matter content. 


»WOCAT technology 1162

AMP25 03

Cover crops in olive groves

A false brome (Brachypodium distachyon) cover crop is planted the first year to protect against water erosion. Thereafter additional grasses, barley and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) are planted annually in November.

»WOCAT technology 1173


AMP25 04

Continuous soil cover on croplands

Cover crops are sown after the main crop has been harvested to maintain a continuous soil cover. At the end of the crop cycle, they are ploughed in as green manure to improve soil organic matter content, nutrient cycle and fertility.


»WOCAT technology 1217

AMP25 05

Intercropping of grass and maize to increase soil organic matter

When the main maize crop has reached knee height, Italian rye grass is sown as an intercrop. The grass is ploughed into the soil several months after the maize harvest, improving soil organic matter content and reducing nutrient leaching.


»WOCAT technology 1248

Note: Most of the Further information links are to a full description of the example in the WOCAT database. However sometimes the link may be to similar practices or a research paper. Occasionally the link is to a commercial product in which case it should be understood that this does not imply any endorsement of the product by iSQAPER.

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