Grow your own fertilizer—plant cover crops with maize

| September 16, 2019

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One of our Farmer stories from Kenya highlights the benefits of growing jack beans as a cover crop. Our Script of the week also talks about cover crops, and focuses on velvet bean and lablab bean.

When farmers use these cover crops with maize, they should plant maize first, plant the beans 2-4 weeks later beside or in between maize rows (two weeks for velvet beans and 2-4 weeks for lablab), and cut the beans back when they begin to shade out the maize. They will still cover the soil, thus suppressing weeds. They also:

  • add nitrogen fertilizer to the soil,
  • protect the soil from erosion, and
  • for lablab bean, provide another crop for the farmers.

Do farmers plant cover crops in your area? If so, what kind of cover crops do they plant?

If not, why not? Talk to farmers and extension agents and find out what legume cover crops might work in your area.