Inter-row Cover Crops

 
                       

(Sowing rate: 2 - 3kg/100m2)

Phacelia, also know variously as blue tansy, scorpion weed, fiddleneck, is a member

of the borage family that originates from south-western North America. It is widely

cultivated for use as a constituent in green manure crops, cover crops, and diverse

annual forage mixes. Phacelia is also very highly regarded as a bee forage and for

beneficial insects such as hoverflies.

 

Download a copy of the Phacelia factsheet here. 

 

 

Download a copy of the Green Manure factsheet here.

 

Green manures are sown into ground between crops by gardeners and fresh-market producers, usually during autumn and early winter, although they have application for spring and summer in some situations. Green manures are most often used for vegetable cropping rotations, but may also be used for preparing ground for ornamental gardens, or more broadly to improve ground for following crops in agriculture generally. There is also wide-spread adoption in vineyard and other perennial horticultural enterprises.

 

Key features

  • Nutrient sink – captures nutrients that may otherwise leach away below the cropping zone
  • Less reliance on artificial fertilisers
  • Often less irrigation needed on subsequent crops

 

Key benefits

  • Soil stabilisation – helps avoid erosion where soils may be bare or fallowed
  • Increased fertility – adds significant amounts of soil organic matter
  • Nitrogen Fixation – Lupins, peas, vetch, clovers and tic beans obtain nitrogen from the air and it becomes available to subsequent crops

 

 

Planting: late summer to early spring

 

Analysis         by weight     

Ryecorn          10%  

Oats                10% 

Barley             10% 

Faba Beans    30% 

Lupins             20% 

Field Peas       20%  


Add 5% by weight of phacelia, mustard, rape or tillage radish if these additional species are desired.

 

Suggested sowing rates

Home garden  

2–3 good handfuls per square metre = about 30–50 g/m2

 

e.g. garden bed 5m wide x 10m long 

= 50 m2, 50 x 50g = 2.5kg required
 
Broader scale applications 

200–300 kg per hectare  = about 75–125 kg per acre

 

Management & use patterns

Whilst many annual plants including weeds may offer some benefits as green manure, species should be selected that will establish vigorously for the time of year planted, and be readily incorporated into the soil. The Green Manure Blend is suitable for crops being grown in cooler times of the year, and sub-tropical species will only suit early summer planting. Whilst one of the main roles of a green manure is to capture nutrients to make them available for subsequent cropping, there will in many cases be sound cause and justification to apply some form of fertiliser where elements may be lacking and thus impact growth potential. A soil test and reflection on recent cropping history will offer guidance.
Generating biomass quickly is a key for success. Crops should be sown at seeding rates that assist with developing a quick ground cover, bearing in mind that we are not seeking to grow the crop to full maturity. Best results are achieved if the crop is relatively young, lush and vegetative when it is time to finish it up. Typically allow for around 8–10 weeks growth before slashing, mulching or digging in. The crops should be leafy and tender at and around 40–60 cm high with full ground-cover at time of incorporation. Allowing crops to get taller may increase their fibrous nature: the crop may be more difficult to manage, and there may be unsatisfactory amounts of stem and other residue remaining.