It makes sense that with healthier soil less input is required. For example, cover crop legumes can fix much of the nitrogen that an N-loving plant like corn requires. Other nutrients are generated by microbial activity and synergies with organic material.
Input also addresses disease and pest problems, which can be decreased based on better soil health and the biodiversity provided by a cover crop program.
Cover crops suppress weeds and reduce damage by diseases, insects and nematodes. Many cover crops effectively suppress weeds as a smother crop that outcompetes weeds for water and nutrients.
Other cover crops produce a residue or growing leaf canopy that blocks light alters the frequency of light waves and changes soil surface temperature that suppresses weeds, such as annual winter annual weeds.
Some cover crops are a source of root exudates or compounds that provide natural herbicidal effects against undesirable.
Beneficial insects help keep destructive insects in balance, which can reduce insecticide input, and reduce the spread of plant disease as a result.
Adds to a Better Bottom Line
Cover crops help build farm profitability through a combination of increased yields and reduced needs for input, including fertilizer, fungicides, insecticides and herbicides.