Submitted to: Journal of Plant Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: January 23, 2007
Publication Date: January 31, 2007
Citation: Baligar, V.C., Fageria, N.K. 2007. Agronomy and physiology of tropical cover crops. Journal of Plant Nutrition. 30:1287-1339.
Cover crops are important components of a sustainable crop production system. They can be planted with plantation crops such as cacao, coffee, banana, rubber and oil palm or in rotation with cash crops. Their use in a cropping system is mainly beneficial for soil and water conservation, recycling of nutrients, control of pests and improved microbiological activities. However, beneficial effects depend on the selection of appropriate cover crops and their management. Hence, understanding their agronomy and physiology is fundamental for their use in sustainable cropping systems. Growth and development of a crop (physiological aspects) is determined genetically as well as influenced by environmental variables. This information can be useful in improving production of these crops and, consequently, their incorporation in farming systems, wherever it is possible. In the tropical region, hundreds of grasses and legumes have been adapted as cover crops in row and plantation crops and therefore, it is not possible to include all of them in one single article. Hence, agronomy and physiology of selected cereals and legumes that might have significant impact as cover crops are included in this review.