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COVER CROPS: PROTECTING OUR FARMLANDS BY FARMING THEM

COVER CROPS: PROTECTING OUR FARMLANDS BY FARMING THEM

At Monsanto, we are all committed to addressing climate change, and that starts with our own operations. As well as leveraging the power of software, mobile devices and data science to make better-informed decisions that allow us to use resources more sustainably; we are also implementing tried-and-true techniques to keep our farmlands sustainable in the long term. One such technique is cover-cropping systems.

Back in February 2016, the Monsanto Juana Díaz site implemented the cover cropping system, led by agronomist Francisco Muñiz.

“Cover crops have the benefit of bringing balance to our agriculture systems,” said Francisco. “They contribute to the biodiversity of our farms and plots by attracting native beneficial insects and pollinators, such as bees and wasps, which in turn, keep harmful insects at bay. Cover crops also reduce weeds, reducing product applications for these purposes, provide structure, recycle nutrients and make them available on the ground.”

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Specifically, the cover cropping systems at the Juana Díaz site include:

  • Broadleaf plants, which attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
  • Legumes, which fix nitrogen nutrients and help store them in the soil.
  • Gramineae, or grasses, that give structure to the soil to help keep it from eroding, and return nutrients and benefits to the soil for future crops.
  • Brassicas, or cole crops, that help break up the soil, which leads to good soil structure. They also capture nitrogen and are great nutrient mobilizers, and absorb and return carbon to the soil, enhancing its quality.

Once their cycle has ended, these cover crops are incorporated into the soil, as green fertilizer, to help lock in nutrients and slowly release them over time. This creates more organic matter, which contributes to a healthier soil.

The use of cover crops is another tool in the program of the integrated pest management and agronomic practices program that aims to maximize resources and improve crops.