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Green Manure

Find out the benefits of green manure and its uses




Green Manure

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Green Manure is a term used to describe plants which are grown to improve or protect the soil. If soil is left bare for more than a few weeks it will start to lose nutrients due to wind, rain, and snow. In addition soil can be eroded by wind and rain, or compressed by the force of rain fall.

Green Manure


Mustard green manure being chopped in October

Plants used as green manure. tend to be fast growing, and deep rooting. The deep roots dig down and bring nutrients to the surface which could not be reached by the roots of crops. Some also take nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it in the soil adding nutrution. They also retain existing nutrients, add further nutrients, and when dug into the soil later on, increase the levels of organic matter in soil.

As green manure plants cover the ground they prevent weeds spreading, and their root systems also improve the structure of the soil in which they grow. Green manure can also be cut (using shears) to be put on the compost heap, with just the roots dug into the soil.

Grazing Rye - used as a winter green manure.

If you require a green manure for the spring or summer a fast growing plant is required which does not need to be frost hardy. Therefore the following are recommended: Bitter Lupin, Buckwheat, Fenugreek, Crimson clover, and Mustard. In the autumn and winter the following slower growing harder varieties are recommended: Alsike clover, Essex red clover, grazing rye, phacelia, trefoil, winter field beans, and winter tares. All should be cut down in the spring.

Typically green manure seeds cost around 1 for enough to cover 30 sq.m., or 10 for a 1-2.5Kg bag of seed to cover a far wide area. The cheapest seed is typically mustard with a 2.5Kg bag sufficient to cover 850 sq.m. available for under 10 in the UK. Mustard should be dug into the ground before it flowers, and this typically takes just 3-4 weeks from sowing. That makes mustard a great way to add humus to the soil quickly, naturally, and cost effectively.

Usually green manures should be dug into the ground a few weeks before planting crops - particularly if you intend to plant small seeds.

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green manure



Article Published: 10:25, 14th Aug 2008


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