An Overview of Cover Crops
When you decide to buy land in Florida, it is best to consult with land experts that understand farming and land management. An area of consideration is the type and condition of the land’s soil as this will determine the types of crops that can be grown. One way to ensure the health of your soil is to add cover crops to your agricultural system.
Cover crops are a helpful way to protect and enrich soil, but must be chosen based on your specific agricultural needs. Since the soil in Florida is low in fertility, nutrients, organic content, and water, cover crops are an effective way to increase these factors. However, determining the appropriate timing for planting and duration between planting is crucial. Cover crops are used for various reasons including but not limited to the following reasons:
- Reducing surface hardness
- Stabilizing soil particles
- Increasing organic matter
- Seasonal or long term erosion protection
- Reducing weeds or root rot
- Attracting specific insects
- Nitrogen fixation and scavenging
Types and Species
It’s important to understand the types and species of cover crops when you buy Florida land. Cover crops can be legumes, non-legume, or a mixture. There are a couple types of cover crops: Winter cover crops, summer cover crops, and perennial cover crops. Summer crops are often used over perennial because they are easier to establish and help prevent soil erosion and provide nitrogen for fall crops. Some of the cover crops best suited for Florida include soybean, cowpeas, aeschynomene, sun hemp, and bahiagrass, alfalfa.
Benefits of Cover Crops
Cover crops can be beneficial in many ways. When adding them to your existing rotations be sure to plan properly to avoid crop failure which leads to trouble in other areas in your agricultural system. Cover crops help to prevent soil erosion and improve the health of the soil. They help to control pests, increase nutrients and organic matter. They also increase water and suppress weeds.