Cover Crops & Forages
Cover crops are crops grown for some other purpose other than harvestable yield. Cover crops are included in farming operations to improve soil physical, chemical and biological properties, supply nitrogen, interfere with pest life cycles and attract beneficial insects.
While not all of these benefits are realized at each application, producers can select cover crops that will satisfy multiple objectives at once. Producers should consider potential drawbacks before deciding to include a cover crop. In some instances, the cover crop can require additional labor and expense, delay crop planting, or serve as an alternate host to crop insects or diseases.
A cover crop should:
- satisfy the producer’s main objective
- be easy to establish with minimal to no inputs
- be managed with equipment and labor resources at hand
- not compete with the vegetable crop and
- perform well under various environmental conditions.
Prioritizing objectives for cover crops necessitates an understanding of when and under what conditions benefits can occur. Some benefits occur during cover crop growth, while other benefits occur after cover crop termination. Generally, benefits are only fully realized with a robust stand of cover crop. A wide variety of cover crop species and management options are available to fit a farm operation.
A number of warm and cool-season forages have been developed and tested for Florida’s climate, and there are many excellent forages that could be used as cover crops in a vegetable crop rotation.
For more information about cover crops and forages, please see the resources listed here or contact your local UF-IFAS County Extension office.
- Management Overview
- Alley-Cropping Combinations for the Southeastern USA
- Cover Crop Benefits for South Florida Commercial Vegetables Producers
- Cover Crops
- Annual Cover Crops in Florida Vegetable Systems Part 1. Objectives:Why grow cover crops?
- Annual Cover Crops in Florida Vegetable Systems Part 2: Production
- Annual Cover Crops in Florida Vegetable Systems Part 3. Buying and Sourcing
- Reduction of the Impact of Fertilization and Irrigation On Processes in the Nitrogen Cycle in Vegetable Fields with BMPs
- Nitrogen Fixation and Inoculation of Forage Legumes
- Cover Crop and Forage Species
- 2012 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida
- Alfalfa and Cool Season Clovers
- Annual Ryegrass
- Guide to Using Perennial Peanut As A Cover Crop In Citrus
- Selected Legumes Used as Summer Cover Crops
- Limpograss (Hemarthria altissima): Overview and Management
- Southern Belle and Cherokee Red Clover in Florida
- Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.): A Summer Cover Crop for Florida Vegetable Producers
- Trophy-A New Winter Oat Cultivar for Both Grain and Forage
- Warm Season (Summer) Forage Legume Guide
- White Clover
- Diagnostic Resources
- Forage Testing
- Relevant Topics
- Seed Certification
- Database of Cover Crops and Green Manures, University of Hawaii
- Cover Crops for Organic Farms, North Carolina State University
- Return to Organic Production