A cover crop is a crop planted primarily to manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem, an ecological system managed and largely shaped by humans to produce food, feed, or fiber. Currently, not many countries are known for using the cover crop method.  PPC Farms use cover crops to achieve the following goals:

 

  • Suppressing weeds

  • Protecting soil from rain or runoff

  • Improving soil aggregate stability

  • Reducing surface crusting

  • Adding active organic matter to soil

  • Breaking hardpan

  • Fixing nitrogen

  • Scavenging soil nitrogen

  • Suppressing soil diseases and pests

Justin observing nitrogen fixation.

On a recent visit to PPC Farms in Texas, Justin Duncan, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with NCAT, observed the formation of pink root nodules on our soybean crop.  Many legumes have root nodules that provide a home for symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia. The Rhizobia convert nitrogen gas from the atmosphere into ammonia, which is then used in the formation of amino acids and nucleotides . When nodules are young and not yet fixing nitrogen, they are usually white or grey inside. As nodules grow in size they gradually turn pink or reddish in color, indicating nitrogen fixation has started.


We at PPC Farms are constantly experimenting with alternative cover crops that suit our subtropical area soil and climate in order to improve the soil that provides us with our bounty.