Definition - What does Cover Crop mean?
A cover crop is a non-cash crop which is planted in-between grapevine rows. It can be a variety of grasses or grains and cereals or mustard, for example. They are typically sown in the late summer season.
Throughout the winter, they work as a soil cover, preventing erosion and in the spring when they are plowed in, they work as a green fertilizer.
WineFrog explains Cover Crop
Throughout the life of a grape vine, cover crop absorb many nutrients from the soil such as carbon, nitrogen and potassium. Over the years, these vital nutrients can become depleted and grapevines can suffer.
Planting a cover crop each year is a means of maintaining vineyard health and keeping a balance of nutrients in the soil, which are essential to vine growth and health.
There is no income earned from a cover crop, however, it does have several functions and advantages other than maintaining certain nutrients:
- Cover crops keep down less-desirable native plants and weeds.
- They capture carbon and fixate nitrogen in the soil.
- They maintain moisture and excess water in place.
- Some (such as mustard) are functional and ornamental.
- They work as green manure to "feed" the soil and keep down weeds during decomposition.