Crops that are grown solely to provide soil cover or for the purposes of increasing soil fertility are referred to as cover crops or green manures. In general, these crops are incorporated into the soil while green or just after flowering. Due to their ability to protect and enhance soils, cover crops are considered a fundamental aspect of any sustainable cropping system. However, the benefits of cover crops extend beyond soil quality. In particular, more and more growers are realizing the insect, disease and weed management benefits of cover crops.
This updated publication is meant to serve as a practical guide to using cover crops on small- to moderate-size fresh market vegetable operations. Cover crops are especially vital on organic vegetable farms. Organic growers rely on cover crops to build organic matter in the soil, provide nutrients to subsequent cash crops, help reduce weed pressure, and manage other pests. The recommendations in this report are appropriate for a certified organic grower.