Study Shows Importance of Cover Cropping in Organic Vegetable Production

A study published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal compared vegetable farming systems in California’s Salinas Valley that received different amounts and types of organic matter. The American Society of Agronomy reports that cover cropping annually—no matter the type of plant grown—greatly benefits the soil. Adding compost offered less of an increase in soil microbial activity than growing a cover crop did. “Our results on soil enzyme activity illustrate the importance of frequent cover-cropping in tillage-intensive, organic vegetable production,” says study leader Eric Brennan. “This raises questions about the sustainability of organic and conventional vegetable systems if cover crops are seldom used. We need to find innovative strategies to help farmers increase cover cropping.”