Ten Tum, a farmer from Dambae District in Tboung Khmum Province, owns a 2-hectare cassava farm. Over the past2 years, he has been practicing the use of cover crops, specifically sun hemp, after receiving a recommendation from PDAFF (Tboung Khmum Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries). Ten Tum noticed that his farm had poor soil quality and decided to experiment with cover crops on his cassava field. To his delight, he observed that when the sun hemp was chopped and added to the field, it not only prevents soil erosion but also improved the soil conditions by turning its biomass to humus compost.
“Previously, my farm faced extremely dry soil during the dry season, making cassava cultivation challenging. However, after implementing the sun hemp cover crop, I discovered that my soil remained in good condition with adequate moisture even during the dry season, unlike the neighboring fields.”
Although Ten Tum had to spend his own money to purchase cover crop seeds, he believed in the importance of soil recovery and increasing the yield of his main crop. He received training and witnessed field demonstrations from PDAFF Tboung Khmum, which further strengthened his beliefin the technique's potential benefits. Based on recommendations from PDAFF and researchers, he decided to plant sun hemp as his cover crop on his cassava farm.
The process of planting cover crops and transitioning to the main crop involved several steps. First, Ten Tum harvested the cassava. Then, he plowed the field and sowed the sun hemp seeds. After approximately one and a half month, he chopped the sun hemp and proceeded to plant the cassava.
Ten Tum's adoption of cover crops has resulted in increased productivity and yield. Prior to using cover crops, he relied on fertilizers and obtained a yield of 18 tons per hectare. However, with the implementation of cover crops, he no longer needed to invest in fertilizers, and his yield increased to 20 tons per hectare. He observed this significant difference in yield during the second year of practicing cover crops.
Satisfied with the results of the technique, Ten Tum highly recommends it to other farmers, particularly those cultivating cassava.
“I would recommend this practice to farmers especially those who have casava field because it not only provides humus compost and moisture to your soil but also increases the yield of the maincrop without the need for additional fertilizers”. Ten Tum's success story demonstrates the positive impact of cover crops on soil health and agricultural productivity, offering a sustainable and cost-effective solution for farmers in the region.