Sustainable farmers and gardeners know that the soil needs to be “fed” regularly in order to continue yielding good crops. Organic matter (carbon-based materials derived from living organisms) and nitrogen (N) are especially subject to depletion from intensive production, and must be replenished annually. There are two ways to accomplish this. One way is to haul compost, aged manure, mulch hay and other nutrient-rich organic materials into the field and spread them. That can run into a lot of labor and/or fuel costs. This Virginia Association for Biological Farming information sheet provides an introduction to the other way—sowing cover crops and letting them produce the organic matter and N in place, using solar energy!
Want more information? See the related SARE grants:
- Enhancing Sustainability of Organic Broccoli Production through Integration of No-tillage and Farmscaping (LS03-149)
- Sustainable Organic No-Till Systems: A Training Program for CES and NRCS Field Professionals (ES06-085)
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.