Mustard a Favorite Cover Crop

Cover Crops

At least seventeen crops are being used for cover crop farming. Each crop has its own benefits and disadvantages. Mustard is emerging the favorite choice of farmers worldwide because of its proven properties. But even then, it is better to do cover cropping under expert guidance.

There are many farmers, who are not satisfied with the gains from their fields despite doing best efforts. Governments worldwide are supporting the farmers, farm owners, agriculture research institutes and industries making the farming equipment in every possible way with the expectation of increased crops. Better crops reduce not only the dependency over other countries but also encourage the farmers to hold out their existing farming profession. Cover crop farming is the result of collective efforts and supporting environment. So far results of doing cover cropping have been very favorable, so more researches are being initiated to make the cover crop farming more beneficial- practically and economically both. Since last couple of years, mustard is being used widely as an effective covering crop. The result of mustard crops are making it popular worldwide.

The major benefit of mustard crop is that it contains high level of glucosinolates. The practice of using mustard crops to manage pathogens is termed as bio fumigation, which is the suppression of soil-borne diseases through naturally generated compounds. All the brassicas like cabbage, kale, sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and mustard naturally produce glucosinolates. It makes certain brassicas “hot”. Brassicas have been proved very rich containers of glucosinolates. The high glucosinolates level ensures better biofumigant. When the plant cells are damaged, glucosinolates comes in the contact with myrosinase. The reaction, in the presence of water, produces isothiocyanate (ITC). ITC triggers the suppressive effects.

Proven benefits of Mustard crop as cover crop:

  • Acts like natural biofumigant
  • Winterkills at 26 deg F
  • Easy to destroy with herbicides or tillage
  • Provides alleopathic weeding control
  • Helps in “cleaning up” the fields where nematode is a problem
  • Checks the germination or survival of ryegrass

Mustard crop should be planted 1-2″ deep as monoculture crop. To ensure the expected results, it must be destroyed completed by tillage at least three weeks before planting of cash crop. After the destroy of mustard crop, rain or irrigation is must because it helps in release of glucosinilates.

Mustard is not the only one crop that is being used as cover up crop; there are at least seventeen crops. Selection depends upon the particular purposes, geographical and climatic conditions. Cowpeas, Soybeans, Red Clover, Alfalfa, Crimson Clover, Sweet Clover etc are also getting popularity worldwide as cover crops. Many agencies offer free consultancy and even on site services, so there is no need to take risk by adopting hit and try method.

The Author:

Jonnie T. Allen

Photo. Amit Kaushal



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