A cover crop is a plant that can be used to protect soil from erosion due to heavy rainfall and slopes in the terrain, control weeds and manage soil fertility. For example, soy and mucuna can enhance soil fertility by fixing nitrogen into the earth. Additionally, they can later be incorporated into the field (prior to planting the fruit crop) as a way to reduce the depletion of soil nutrients and the use of fertilizers. Cover crops can be grown as a monoculture or in combination with commercial crops, such as within the banana plantations.
Cover crops and crop rotation are usually used together, in order to optimize benefits. For example, due to the reduction of nematodes, some Dole banana farms in Honduras, replanted in 2003 and 2004, after 6 months of fallow (planted with cover crops), have not received any application of nematicides for years.
Additionally, during the first year after the fallow period, the use of other pests control products can be reduced up to 50%.