cultivation of a second type of crop primarily to improve the production system for a primary crop; examples include grasses or legumes maintained in orchards or vineyards and legume or other crops grown during the winter season to improve soil condition. A crop, such as winter rye or clover, planted between periods of regular crop production to prevent soil erosion and provide humus or nitrogen. Plowed under, a cover crop becomes a green manure.
Plants, such as rye, alfalfa, or clover, that can be planted immediately after harvest to hold and protect the soil.
Cover crops are grasses, legumes, or small grains grown between regular grain production periods for the purpose of protecting and improving the soil. For water erosion control, the winter cover crops hold the soil together until spring, helping to keep nutrients in the land and reduce run off. Cover crops also protect the land from the harsh forces of the wind.