Living Mulch is a cover crop inter planted or undersown with a main crop, intended to serve the purpose of a mulch, such as a weed supression and regulates of soil temperature. Mulches are sowing the growth of weeds and protect soil from water and wind erosion.
Legumes used as living Mulches also provide Nitrogen Fixation,Reducing the need for fertilizer. When cover crops are turned over into soil,They contributes Nutrients to main crops so that less fertilizer is required. By using this we can fix soil structure.
Mulches are used to control soil erosion, nutrients losses and offsite movement of pesticides.weeds cannot survive in this mulches. It control by two ways, Some are allelopathic and some are kill weeds.
Legumes have Plant Nutrients that effects on nutrients cycling of main crops. Mulches works in Legumes by 3 ways
- By Fixing the atmospheric N2 that is for main crop
- Recycling soil Nutrients and
- Enhancing soil nutrients availabilty for crops
- Less consumption of harmful and toxic fertilizers
But it has main Drawbacks like it competes with main crop for water and nutrients. This can reduce yield. It covers largely biomass production and turnover,They are not likely to increase soil organic matter. By this the main crop loss its yielding capacity of 5 to 10%.