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The Role of Cover Crops towards Sustainable Soil Health and Agriculture—A Review Paper

Cover crops are the plants which are grown to improve soil fertility, prevent soil erosion, enrichment and protection of soil, and enhance nutrient and water availability, and quality of soil. Cover crops provide several benefits to soils used for agriculture production. Cover crops are helpful in increasing and sustaining microbial biodiversity in soils. We summarized the effect of several cover crops in soil properties such as soil moisture content, soil microbial activities, soil carbon sequestration, nitrate leaching, soil water, and soil health. Selection of cover crops usually depends on the primary benefits which are provided by cover crops. Other factors may also include weather conditions, time of sowing, either legume or non-legume and timing and method of killing of a cover crop. In recent times, cover crops are also used for mitigating climate change, suppressing weeds in crops and increasing exchangeable nutrients such as Mg2+ and K+. Cover crops are also found to be economical in long-term experiment studies. Although some limitations always come with several benefits. Cover crops have some problems including the method of killing, host for pathogens, regeneration, and not immediate benefits of using them. Despite the few limitations, cover crops improve the overall health of the soil and provide a sustainable environment for the main crops.

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