Thursday, June 19, 2014

Green Manures and Why Plant Them

wheat and vetch
People often ask what we mean by green manure.  It is a term used for a crop planted to cover the soil and add nutrients to the soil.  Clover and other legumes add nitrogen to the soil. Rye and deep rooted grasses break up hard soil.  Green manures also cover the soil and keep it more temperate like mulch does.  This promotes microbial life in the soil.  


The root matter of green manures adds organic matter to the soil.  The organic matter helps both sandy and clay soils become more like a sponge that has air and can hold moisture after rain.  Ken read a couple years ago that for each percentage of organic matter the soil has, the crops planted in that soil can go without rainfall - for example a field with five percent organic matter can support crops with no rainfall for a month.  This enables Ken to spend less time irrigating crops.

Ken plants several different green manures and combinations of green manures.  Some over winter and others die with frost.  He chooses based on time of year. moisture, what is needed, and other factors

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