Cover Crop Farming System

  • Masakazu KomatsuzakiEmail author
  • Takahiro Ito
  • Tiejun Zhao
  • Hajime Araki


The benefit of applying cover crop depends on farming practices including tillage and cropping systems, as well as land use such as wet paddy or upland fields. The following considerations are some important aspects for evaluating the economic and ecological benefits of cover crops: (1) reducing fertilizer consumption, (2) reducing the use of herbicides, (3) improving crop yields through enhanced soil health, (4) preventing soil erosion caused by wind and water, (5) protecting water quality by mitigating erosion and surface runoff, and (6) attracting beneficial insects and serving as a trap to eliminate harmful insects.

The benefits of using cover crops are generally shown by changes in the soil carbon and nitrogen (N) dynamics resulting from both cover crop ecology and soil biological activities associated with the cover crops. Selection and management of the cover crop strongly influences the amount of carbon input to the soil and carbon release from the crop residue and hence the ability to replenish the soil organic carbon (SOC) pool. Adding cover crop residue in soil can enhance SOC that is closely associated with soil microbial diversity and activity. Changes of microbial quantity and quality in the soil indicate changes in soil quality caused by the use of cover crops. These changes are important responsive indicators of how the soil management practices affect crops. The no-tillage system is another alternative that has been used increasingly for crop production because of its significant environmental advantages over moldboard plow. Hairy vetch (HV), a cover crop in greenhouse, has a superior capability in supplying nitrogen because of its excellent efficiency in fixing nitrogen biologically. Because intensive tomato production in greenhouse needs a significant quantity of nutrition for a healthy growth and sufficient yield, utilizing cover crops is desirable to reduce the consumption of chemical fertilizer.

Developing and implementing ecospecific, eco-friendly, and system-based soil management methods are necessary to deal with the growing demands and pressures on land and water resources.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masakazu Komatsuzaki
    • 1
    Email author
  • Takahiro Ito
    • 2
  • Tiejun Zhao
    • 2
  • Hajime Araki
    • 3
  1. 1.College of AgricultureIbaraki UniversityAmiJapan
  2. 2.Niigata Agro-Food UniversityNiigataJapan
  3. 3.Field Science Center for Northern BiosphereHokkaido UniversityHokkaidoJapan

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