The type of cover crop that’s used depends on the cash crops to be planted, soil condition, geographic location, and soil condition. If the soil has a tendency to leach nitrogen, planting a nitrogen-scavenging crop such as brassicas, oat, rye, or winter wheat will improve soil quality. If the soil lacks nitrogen, nitrogen-producing crops such as red clover, peas, or vetch should be used. When there is a weed problem, using brassicas, winter rye, or buckwheat can be beneficial. Oat, barley, rye, wheat, and other fibrous-rooted crops can be used to build soil structure. Many cover crops have more than one key function.
The use of cover crops can increase yields of cash crops the year immediately after planting them, which can lead to increased profits. Cover crops can also suppress weeds, support pest and disease control, enhance nitrogen levels, reduce fertilizer costs and the need for herbicides and pesticides, mitigate soil erosion, improve availability of water, and improve soil quality.