Green manuring crops are also called as cover crops.These are plants grown to improve the Organic Matter, nutrient content and structure of the soil.They are cheap Alternatives of artifical fertilizers. Can also be used to suplement the animal manures.
Growing of green manuring crops is not simple as the growing of leguminous crops.Green manures are usually dug into the soil.They are grown for their green leafy material, high in nutrients and provide the soil cover.It can be grown alone or in mixture with the other crops. Green Manuring is done when plants are young i.e have maximum green material and before the producing any crop and flowers.
Criteria for the selection of Green manures:
- The crop must be fast growing.
- It should produces abundant and succulent shoots (foliage).
- Must be well adapted to the local conditions.
- Preferably have a high rate of nitrogen fixation (but it is not compulsory).
- They should have high water-use efficiency when used in drier regions.
Essential precautions for growing Green Manurers:
- Broadcast or sow the seeds after the harvest of the main crop.
- Slash green manure crop shoots and incorporate it into the soil.
- Slashing and incorporation of green manure crop should be done at adequate soil moisture level (Tar Wattar).
- Since in the initial stage of decomposition there will be a released heat of decomposition.
- This heat is very unfavorable for germination and the growth of young plants.
- Use rotavator, disc harrow to incorporate the green manure crop.
- After 1-2 weeks of the incorporation of the green mnaurer. Sow or transplant the next crop.Because the heat generated by the green manuring crops can harm the newly germinating seed links.Therefore donot palnt the main crop imeditaly
Green Manuring Advantages:
- It improves the soil fertility by the increasing the humus content of the soil.
- Adds the nutrients and organic matter.
- Helps to improve the soil structure.
- Increases the water holding capacity of the soil.
- Helps to improve the soil aeration.
- It increases the nutrient holding capacity of the soil.
- Helps control the soil borne insects/ mite (Neem, Vitex, etc), nematodes and diseases (crucifers).
- It is used as a soil binder in the hilly/mountaneous areas.
- Helps Conserves and recycles plant nutrients.
- It protects the soil from erosion.
- Promotes habitat for natural enemies.
- Serves as a good food for the earthworms.
- Increases soil’s biodiversity of beneficial microbes by stimulating their growth.
Crachateristics of green manuring crops:
- First of all it must be Fast growing.
- It should have high scculent growth or green material in short time.
- Preferably the nitrogen fixing or legumenous growth.
- Must have fibrous and deep root system to absorb the nutrients.
- Above all it must have ability to grow on poor quality soil.
Best Green Manure crops:
1- Peas 2-Clovers
3- Lentils 4- Azolla(mosquito Ferns)
5- Soybean 6- Mustard
7– Sesbania 8- Guar
9- Sunhemp 10- Alfa Alfa