One goal of my final project is to have a handle on the management techniques used by organic farmers, some of which the Organic Producer Questionnaire mentions. To jump-start that goal, I present this week's Wordy Wednesday, taken from Section 5: "Soil & Crop Fertility Management." Definitions of crops are taken from ATTRA's Overview of Cover Crops and Green Materials.
“The producer must implement a crop rotation including but not limited to sod, cover crops, green manure crops, and catch crops that provide the following functions that are applicable to the operation: maintain or improve soil organic matter content; provide for pest management in annual and perennial crops; manage deficient or excess plant nutrients and provide erosion control.”
Sod: a section of grass-covered surface soil held together by matted roots.
Cover crops: any crop grown to provide soil cover, to prevent soil erosion by wind or water. Try hairy vetch, rye, clover, medic (legume related to alfalfa), or field peas.
Green manure crop: any field or forage crop incorporated into soil while green or soon after flowering. Use legumes like cowpeas, soybeans, annual sweet clover, sesbania, guar, crotalaria, and velvet beans; or non-legumes like sorghum-sudangrass, millet, forage sorghum, and buckwheat. Green manuring will improve biomass, smother weeds, and improve soil tilth (physical structure).
Catch crops: a cover crop planted after the main crop’s been harvested with the intent of reducing nutrient leaching. Rye after corn, for example, helps “scavenge” leftover nitrogen, which could otherwise contaminate groundwater.
Picture of hairy vetch from Jarrett.