Early development and nutrition of cover crop species as affected by soil compaction
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A good cover crop should have a vigorous early development and a high potential for nutrient uptake that can be made available to the next crop. In tropical areas with relatively dry winters drought tolerance is also very important. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the early development and nutrition of six species used as cover crops as affected by sub-superficial compaction of the soil. The plants (oats, pigeon pea, pearl millet, black mucuna, grain sorghum, and blue lupin) were grown in pots filled with soil subjected to different subsurface compaction levels (bulk densities of 1.12, 1.16, and 1.60 mg m(-3)) for 39 days. The pots had an internal diameter of 10 cm and were 33.5 cm deep. Grasses were more sensitive to soil compaction than leguminous plants during the initial development. Irrespective of compaction rates, pearl millet and grain sorghum were more efficient in recycling nutrients. These two species proved to be more appropriate as cover crops in tropical regions with dry winters, especially if planted shortly before spring.