Data Brief. 2022 Dec 19;46:108841. doi: 10.1016/j.dib.2022.108841. eCollection 2023 Feb.
Crop diversification with cover crops could deliver a wide range of agroecosystem services including water conservation, nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and crop productivity as well as reducing the negative environmental footprint of conventional fallows. However, the potential competition of cover crops and subsequent cash crops on plant available water and soil mineral nitrogen (N) has limited the adoption of cover cropping for fallow replacement in water-limited environments. This article provides datasets for understanding the multifunctional role of cover crops as an alternative paradigm to conventional fallow in water-limited environments. The dataset is divided into four components comprising measured cover crop parameters (21 variables, n = 144), soil water (4 variables, n = 2,159), soil mineral N (4 variables, n = 1440), and site characteristics (8 variables). The datasets consist of crop resource quantity (biomass, N uptake, δ¹⁵N (‰), fixed shoot N, and water use), resource quality (C/N ratio, lignin, acid detergent fibre, and N concentration), and soil status (plant available water and mineral N) at field scale. The data supports the framework of the continuous development of alternative innovative cropping systems that have the potential to increase and maintain crop yield while minimizing the adverse effects of conventional fallowing in the context of sustainable intensification. The datasets are associated with the original research article published in Agriculture, Ecosystem, and Environment entitled “Fallow replacement cover crops impact soil water and nitrogen dynamics in a semi-arid sub-tropical environment” as Garba et al. .