Cover crop - intercrop for Kharif


What would be a good cover crop that can be sown between rows of main crop for Kharif? I am thinking of some field crops like Maize, Jowar and red gram to be sown in rows using a tractor mounted seed drill, and would like to have some low growing legume cover crops broadcast between the rows if possible. I am primarily looking for weed suppression, soil improvement and ground cover. A perennial would be acceptable too if it does not grow tall. Any additional economic yield is a bonus of course.

Is this a good idea? What cover crops will be suitable and available?

I feel that will be a good idea, please check about  Pillimisara/Uluvalu for cover crop … dix-IV.xls … prove-soil

Click “view” then click “download” … tural_soil

I think moong dal is good for monsoon season and as a green manure.
But I don’t know how it can take water logged soils.
In this article he mentions which green manure crops can take water logging and extremely heavy rains. … tural_soil

Here are other cover crops that can help remediate soil.
Fenugreek, sesame, and ginger can help loosen soil.
Chickpeas and black eyed peas can help add organic matter.

My ancestors I think used peanut shells for organic matter. I would ask others to confirm that.

But I think
RED Karamani or Red cowpea is best for soil remediation. … G_0739.jpg … eb2013.pdf

There are many links online. In YouTube or Google “green manure India” or “green manuring India” … intro.html … 421700.htm … x3POzc4j9g … pp=desktop … 7sIEOP2BuE

Nadaganaadi Thiru C.Karikalan hails from Thiruthuraipoondi, Thruvarur (CAUVERY DELTA) (Phone No.: 0091-92456 21018) practices do nothing farming similar to Fukuoka method with indigenous paddy varieties like Kattuyaanam, Yellow Ponni, Kattu ponni and Karungkuruvai. He is a prominent folk dramatist for last decades and hails from a traditional merchant family among the four brothers. He was introduced to Sow and Harvest type of farming rather than the green revolution type intensive farming with HY IR varieties.

He is having imminent mental strength to propagate indigenous paddy varieties to farmers and also to consumers. He is with CREATE’s SAVE RICE CAMPAIGN in India heading for a National movement. He is selling indigenous rice varieties and also seeds for the interested farmers.

Thanks natureworx and Jasmine.

Based on the above, pillipesara and ulavalu (horse gram) indeed seem to fit my bill. I looked up their pics and they are low growing and cover the soil. As I mentioned, I would like the cover not to compete with the main crop by growing tall. I am told these seeds are currently available in the market.

The next point to work out is how to sow these. At the moment, I am considering drilling the main crop rows and then immediately broadcasting the cover crop seed all over.

Simple broadcasting may not germinate a legume seed and birds scoop out within one night. you can use multi chamber seed drill and fill different seeds in different chambers.

Excellent point, I didn’t think about the birds.
I have got a regular seed drill and hiring a multichamber one around here is next to impossible.I guess I will have to have the broadcasting to happen just before the drilling of main crop, so that the coverage of soil also covers the cover crop seed.

“In some cases, however, crop failures result and Harrison and Aiyer suggest that bad effects are experienced by using green manures on improperly drained land. In one case given by Dobbs, the failure of the rice crop after the application of a green-manure crop in 1912-13 was followed in 1913-14 by an unusually good crop. The decomposition of green manure when puddled into a rice field has been discussed on p. 108 and Harrison and Aiyer believe that the failure of a rice crop after green manuring on badly drained land may be due to the injurious decomposition products which, because of lack of drainage, are not removed from the soil.”

You need good drainage or select varieties that can handle water logged soils.

Pg. 233-239 section on India … nuring.pdf

Cow pea is a best cover crop you can use It was traditionally practiced in vidarbha region of maharashtra state since generations but discontinued after introduction of Hybrid jwar/bajra/maize were introduced by so called green revolution. Cow pea is not the cover crop but it is also a companion crop helping jwar/bajra/maize and the soil also to prosper. It could be sown in many ways but the best of all sowing patterns is mixing 3kg Jwar or 1.5 kg Bajra or 5 kg Maize seeds with 5kg cow pea seeds and sowing in 1 acre field. You can also try some area with seed balls sowing with traditional way or even spreading in natural way. To reduce weeds it is better to sow / spread before first shower of monsoon.Post monsoon showers it is better not to spread but sow in rows only as seeds of the weed starts germinating with first shower of monsoon and can create competition with the crop sown later.

Thanks apjoglekar.

My only hesitation against cowpea was that it grows 2 - 3 feet. Does this cover up the main crop then and prevent it from growing?

Given the option is to sow together with the main crop after initial rains and land preparation, is it still possible to use cowpea? I am thinking of sowing the main crop in rows and broadcasting the cover crop between the rows and covering up with soil a bit using a rake.

Do you see this as reasonable?


may be this video is useful.



Thanks for the video. We certainly need to look at how this can practically be applied to a fairly large acreage.