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Cover crops and living mulches bring many benefits to crop production. Interest in winter annual cover crops such as winter rye and hairy vetch for ground cover and soil erosion control has been increasing in the last 30 yr in some areas. The integration of cover crops into a cropping system by relay cropping, overseeding, interseeding, and double cropping may serve to provide and conserve nitrogen for grain crops, reduce soil erosion, reduce weed pressure, and increase soil organic matter content (Hartwig and Hoffman 1975). Hairy vetch has increased availability of nitrogen to succeeding crops, increased soil organic matter, improved soil structure and water infiltration, decreased water runoff, reduced surface soil temperature and water evaporation, improved weed control, and increased soil productivity (Frye et al. 1988). More recent research with perennial living mulches, such as crownvetch (Hartwig 1983), flatpea, birdsfoot trefoil, and white clover (Ammon et al. 1995), has added a new dimension to the use of ground covers that eliminates the need to reseed each year. Cropping systems with the use of ground covers have been worked out for vineyards, orchards, and common agronomic crops, such as corn, small grains, and forages. Legume cover crops have the potential for fixing nitrogen, a portion of which will be available for high-nitrogen–requiring crops such as corn. In areas where excess nitrogen is already a problem, the use of ground covers may provide a sink to tie up some of this excess nitrogen and hold it until the next growing season, when a crop that can make use of it might be planted (Hooda et al. 1998). Even legumes tend to use soil nitrogen rather than fixing their own, if it is available. It is these possibilities that provide the incentive for looking at the effect of various kinds of cover crops on soil erosion, nitrogen budgets, weed control, and other pest management and environmental problems.
This chapter discusses the present situation and future prospects of the German language, with emphasis on the international standing of the language. Measuring (in whatever loose or more rigorous sense) the international standing of languages in comparison to other languages is a hazardous task even for any point of time for which reasonably reliable data are available, since it is easy to question the validity of any data for the ideas that they supposedly represent. Uncertainty increases in the case of prediction, the more so the further into the future that such predictions are made (see Chapter 6 of this volume). There are, however, numerous data available with respect to the international standing of languages, even data that enable some sort of prediction; see, for example, Truchot 1990; Ammon 1991; 1998; Crystal 1997; Graddol 1997).
What do we mean by the ‘international standing of a language’?
We may mean a host of different things when we use this phrase: we may be referring to countries around the world where we find substantial groups of speakers of the language, native or non-native, to the countries in which the language has some sort of official status or official function, where it is learned as a school subject or serves as a medium of instruction, and so on. The terms in the previous sentence can all be interpreted in various ways, or designate a range of possible meanings.