Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers

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Cover crops are not grown for harvest; rather, they are grown to protect and improve soils. Cover crops can improve soil tilth, control erosion and weeds, and maintain soil organic matter content. Soil compaction can be reduced and water infiltration, which may leach soil nutrients (especially nitrogen) can be reduced. Thus, cover crops can be used to retain and recycle plant nutrients—especially nitrogen—between cropping cycles. Cover crops also provide a habitat for beneficial insects, as well as provide rotations to break plant disease cycles.

This production guide is intended for organic vegetable growers that rely on alternative fertilizer sources and soil improvement systems; however, all vegetable growers can implement soil improvement potential from the use of cover crops.

Paul Conway
Rhonda Janke
Charles W. Marr
Kansas State University