Plant With Purpose Phraseology: Green Manure
Written by Plant With Purpose on October 2, 2013 in General
Portions of farms that once stood bare between planting seasons are now being planted with crops that benefit the soil. Leoncio, a partnering farmer in the Dominican Republic, used to keep his soil bare: a clean farm was the goal. Leoncio now plants patches of his hillside farm with a cover crop, also known as green manure.
Green manure is made by growing a cover crop, then intentionally tilling it into the soil. Cover crops are often grown on plots during fallow periods. After being tilled under, the plant matter decomposes and provides essential nutrients to the soil.
Often leguminous cover crops such as clover will be used because of the unique nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots. Because nitrogen is essential to plant health, these microbes are hugely beneficial to the health of agricultural fields. Use of green manure reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers that otherwise would be providing the nitrogen input into the soil. Green manure can provide a single acre with up to 200 pounds of nitrogen!
Additional benefits of cover crops include:
- an increase in the soil’s ability to absorb and retain water due to a greater amount of organic material.
- their roots help to pull nutrients up to the topsoil from deep in the earth and aerate the soil, allowing for future root growth.
- weed reduction, erosion protection, and promotion of fertile soil chemistry and biodiversity.
Sustainable agricultural techniques, like the use of green manure, are helping farming families increase their crop yields, incomes, and the health of their land.