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Table 1 Traits and corresponding agroecological functions desired for an ideal cover crop

From: Mitigating dry season food insecurity in the subtropics by prospecting drought-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing weeds

Trait Function References
Water use efficiency Drought tolerance [32]
Nitrogen fixation Plant nutrition, soil fertility [32]
Phosphate mineralization Plant nutrition [32]
Palatability Feed quality [32]
Spreading growth Soil cover, prevent erosion [32]
Long roots Deep penetration, sequester moisture [121]
Fibrous roots Bind aggregates, prevent erosion [23]
Suppressive exudates Suppress pests and diseases [122]
Seed storability Shelf life [123]
Lack of dormancy Can be planted readily [123]
Germination Even canopy formation [123]
Inbreeding Homogenous populations from saved seed [123]
Duration Compatibility with crop rotation [32]
Regrowth Tolerance of trampling, grazing, and cutting [32]
Naturalized Not invasive [32]
Allelopathy Suppression of weeds [48]
Yield Productivity [32]
Low input Labor, water, nutrients, rainfed [32]