Cover Crops Tag

Related ATTRA publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas A study in Georgia by USDA Agricultural Research Service, published in Agronomy Journal, evaluated lupin as a winter cover crop for sorghum and cotton fields. The five-year study compared cover crops of lupin, other legumes, and rye, and found that lupin produced the most biomass and nitrogen for the following summer crop....

Related ATTRA podcast: Episode 154: Using Cover Crops in an Organic Walnut Orchard Seeds for Bees encourages the use of cover crops to increase the density, diversity, and duration of bee forage in California orchards, farms, and vineyards, while improving soil health. Enrollment is open from June 1 through August 31, 2022, to California farmers growing honey bee pollinated crops, nuts, and fruits. The seed mixes available through Seeds for Bees are designed to bloom at critical times of the year when natural forage is scarce but managed and native bees are active. Seed availability is limited, and growers are encouraged to...

A study published by Penn State University researchers in Agronomy Journal focused on identifying the best practices for cover crops to optimize cash-crop yields. Specifically, the study looked at the impact of cereal rye seeding rate, termination time, and nitrogen rate on both the soil and a soybean crop. The researchers found that rye seeding rate had no impact on rye biomass or soil moisture. They also discovered that planting green combined with the lowest rye seeding rate and lowest nitrogen rate kept soybeans yields stable, which they say could help producers save money on both cover crop seed and...

Related ATTRA podcast: Using Cover Crops in an Organic Walnut Orchard University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources published a feature on California almond farmer Rob Schuh, who with his son-in-law Andrew Carroll is practicing regenerative farming on 210 acres of almond orchards in Chowchilla, California. Schuh began incorporating compost in 2015 and cover cropping in 2016, while also reducing inputs of synthetic fertilizer and chemical pesticides. These practices were part of an ecosystem approach that produced significant economic benefits and also helped Schuh rekindle his interest in farming. A 16-species cover-crop mix helps the soil hold water and reduces irrigation...

Farmers across Minnesota now have access to detailed financial information about the profitability of cover crops through the FINBIN farm financial database. A collaboration between The University of Minnesota's Center for Farm Financial Management, Minnesota State Farm Business Management, Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management Association, Minnesota Office for Soil Health, and Environmental Defense Fund is making the information available. The initial findings include data from 17 farms growing cover crops and, over the coming years, the cover crop dataset will grow to include more than 85 farms across Minnesota. Preliminary data showed that farmers spent $26 per acre on cover...

For more than 35 years, the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program has been helping farmers and ranchers grow nutritious food and operate successful businesses without synthetic fertilizer. Now, NCAT has released a new toolkit with trusted and practical resources for farmers who want to transition away from the use of synthetic fertilizers.
Emilie Ritter Saunders, Nina Prater and Lee Rinehart...

Climate-resilient agricultural practices can help small farms in North Carolina profit in a changing climate, according to new research by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University Cooperative Extension and Environmental Defense Fund. The research summarizes the real-world financial and climate resilience benefits that practices such as reduced tillage, cover cropping, and high tunnel use are providing three small farms in diverse growing regions: the coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the mountains. A summary report and three case studies share insights for farmers and their advisers to inform their financial decision-making when considering whether to implement climate-smart farming practices. ...

A study led by Penn State researchers showed that cover crops can be more effective at reducing pest density and crop damage than insecticide applications. The research indicated that using biological controls such as encouraging pests' natural enemies through cover crop planting and not using broad-spectrum insecticides was the most effective pest management strategy. "We hypothesized that the increased early-season vegetative cover provided by winter- or spring-sown cover crops would benefit predator populations and increase their biological control potential," explained study lead author Elizabeth Rowen. The researchers found that where broad-spectrum insecticides were used, beneficial insect populations were decreased, yields...

In a new video series: Soil Health 101: Principles for Livestock Production, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Nina Prater makes the case for modeling soil health strategies after nature’s blueprint that produced that situation in the first place. We all know the basic story. Plants photosynthesize sunlight and make sugars. They use the sugars to build leaves and stems and roots and seeds – pretty much everything that makes a plant a plant. But at the same time, they share the wealth by exuding sugars from the roots to feed a “community” of soil microbes and fungi that in turn help keep the...

Mississippi Farmer Jody Reyer, owner and operator of Reyer Farms, shares how he manages his Piney Woods Cattle in order to build soil health. He discusses how he utilizes hay carefully and managed grazing in order to maintain and improve the health of his soil. This workshop is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG. This material is also based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-38640-29878 through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture...

In this webinar, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Felicia Bell discusses the role of cover crops in building soil health. She introduces managed grazing, different cover crop options, and how these relate to water infiltration into the soil. This workshop is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG. This material is also based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-38640-29878 through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number...

In this webinar, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Nina Prater talks about the five principles of soil health, with a particular focus on livestock production. She gives real world examples of how to put the soil health principles into practice. This workshop is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG. This material is also based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-38640-29878 through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under...

A review of studies on cover crops in dry regions, published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, showed that benefits of cover crops extend into semi-arid areas. Lead researcher Humberto Blanco, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and colleagues focused on studies from the semi-arid Great Plains. They looked at ecosystem services including amount of organic carbon in soils, soil microbial properties, weed management, and food crop yields and found that in dry areas, cover crops increased soil organic carbon levels close to 60% of the time. The cover crops also helped suppress weeds and provide feed for livestock....

A new Land Stewardship Project (LSP) billboard campaign promoting the power of building healthy soil on southern Minnesota farms utilizes striking photos, inspiring quotes, and humor to get across the benefits of utilizing cover cropping, managed rotational grazing, no-till, and diverse rotations to build resilient, biologically healthy soil. The campaign was inspired by the eight farmers who sit on the group's Soil Builders' Network steering committee. "Part of the message we're trying to get across is that building healthy soil is not only good for the land and a farmer's bottom line, but is a fun way to take control...

Agricultural producers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit from USDA if they planted cover crops during the 2022 crop year, says USDA Risk Management Agency. To receive the benefit from this year's Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP), producers must report cover crop acreage by March 15, 2022. PCCP helps farmers maintain their cover crop systems, despite the financial challenges posed by the pandemic. It's part of USDA's Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, a bundle of programs to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers who felt the impact of COVID-19 market...

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has entered into a cooperative agreement with Polk County, the City of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works to help increase and expedite the amount of cover crops planted in the Des Moines and Raccoon River watersheds. "What happens upstream impacts the safety of our drinking water and the recreation in our rivers and lakes for everyone in Polk County. We know the utilization of cover crops can have a tremendous impact on reducing nutrient load from agricultural operations in our surface water and groundwater, and improve soil health," said Angela Connolly,...

Related ATTRA publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are investigating cover crops suited to water-limited environments and varying growing conditions in the different regions of Texas. Farmers are looking to optimize cover crop use without consuming the soil moisture needed for cash crops. In the South Plains region of Texas, where cotton is grown, wheat and rye cover crops seem to work best when planted at a lower density than usual and terminated six weeks before planting cotton. In the Northern High Plains, corn-cotton rotations demand a short-season cover crop. For the Rolling Plains, scientists...

Jose Robles es un ex agricultor de almendras que comparte su experiencia aplicando prácticas de conservación a su huerta. Explica porque empezó a aplicar compost y sembrar cultivos de cobertura cuando sus vecinos no lo hacían. También habla sobre su nueva transición en su nuevo rancho con ideas de producir ganado y también aplicar prácticas de conservación.
Jose Robles y Martin Guerena...

Related ATTRA video: Cover Cropping an Almond Orchard University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and their collaborators conducted a multi-year study on how cover crops in almond orchards and tomato fields affected groundwater recharge. The studies revealed that cover crop water use was negligible, and at season's end, soil moisture in cover-cropped fields was equal to that in clean cultivated fields. The living covers helped offset moisture losses from evapotranspiration, leading researchers to conclude that cover crops could be used for their multiple environmental benefits without impairing groundwater recharge. These findings can inform groundwater planning in California....

Three new research reports on projects led by farmers and conducted on-farm have been published by Practical Farmers of Iowa. The research is part of the organization's farmer-led research program. These reports relate the results of trials in feeding whey to pastured broiler chickens, using clover as a companion cover crop or living mulch with corn, and planting corn in 60-inch row widths for interseeding cover crops. The reports are available free online. ...

Related ATTRA Publication: Soils and Sites for Organic Orchards and Vineyards Researchers at Penn State say that cover crops in vineyards can reduce erosion during heavy rainfall, enhance soil health, reduce herbicide use, and improve water quality. In addition, they say growers who inform and educate consumers about using cover crops for their environmental benefits may be able to charge more for their wine. Specifically, in a survey conducted during this study, 72% of 956 wine consumers from the mid-Atlantic region were willing to pay $18.99 for a 750-ml bottle of wine, which included a $1 surcharge to cover the additional costs...

The University of Minnesota's Forever Green initiative is working to develop and improve crops that provide continuous living cover for farmers. Successful Farming reports that crops that can be used as continuous living cover offer an additional revenue stream to farmers, as well as promoting healthy soil and water. Forever Green has identified a list of productive and profitable crops that includes perennials, winter annuals, and native woody crops....

The Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) is releasing a new edition of its Cover Crops Field Guide. The pocket-sized in-field reference helps growers effectively select, grow, and use cover crops. Topics include cover crop selection, cropping system recommendations, and effects of cover crops. Updates to the guide include recommendations for cover crop termination in unfavorably wet springs and planting green into cover crops. The cover crop species section of the guide has also been expanded to incorporate white clover, forage brassicas, balansa clover, and several cover crops commonly used in a mix. The publication will be available for sale in...

A new program seeks to answer the economic questions farmers have about cover crops and provide benchmarking data for farmers using or considering planting cover crops. According to a press release, Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Minnesota's Center for Farm Financial Management have partnered to establish a new financial data gathering process for cover crops within the FINBIN database—the largest publicly available farm financial database and benchmarking service in the country. Enterprise-level farm financial data will be gathered in the FINBIN database and analyzed to compare the relative profitability of farms using cover crops to the farms not...

Three research reports from Practical Farmers of Iowa report on the economics of different aspects of cover crop grazing. Ben Albright, who operates a diversified crop and feedlot operation with his family, tested grazing feedlot cattle on adjacent fields with cover crops and found the practice profitable. In another project, four farmers tested the profitability of grazing a cereal rye cover crop in a corn-soybean rotation and found the grazing profitable. Experienced cover-crop user Mark Glawe experimented with four different cover crop mixes and determined the forage value of each. The research reports are all available online....

A national network led by Cornell University scientists has been awarded a three-and-a-half year, $3 million grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to develop cover crops designed for use by organic growers. Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), winter pea (Pisum sativum), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum) and cereal rye (Secale cereale) are the crops the team will focus on developing. The project will work to improve cover-crop qualities such as weed suppression, early vigor, increased biomass, winter hardiness, seed yield, disease and insect resistance, soft and non-shattering seed, and early flowering. The team will be holding field days...

A team of scientists at seven institutions, led by D. Raj Raman at Iowa State University, received a five-year, $10 million AFRI Sustainable Agricultural Systems grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study the potential benefits of using perennial grasses as cover crops. Annual cover crops require farmers to plant and harvest them every year, so researchers are investigating perennial ground covers that could provide environmental benefits and save farmers money. The scientists will work to identify and refine perennial covers that go dormant during the period when specific cash crops are growing and determine the best...

This episode of Voices from the Field continues the discussion between NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Colin Mitchell and Dr. Alexis Racelis of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley about the use of cover crops in semi-arid subtropical environments. While cover crops are heralded as a regenerative agriculture tool to improve soil health, integrating cover crops into farming systems can be challenging in drier climates. Colin and Dr. Racelis discuss whether cover crops even can be detrimental in some scenarios and steal water from cash crops. In particular, the conversation centers on the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative (SSHI), a research...

In this episode of Voices from the Field, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Colin Mitchell sits down with Dr. Alexis Racelis of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to discuss the use of cover crops in semi-arid subtropical environments. In particular, the conversation centers on the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative, a research partnership between NCAT and UTRGV to address soil health challenges in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. While cover crops are heralded as a regenerative agriculture tool to improve soil health, in drier climates integrating cover crops into farming systems can be challenging. Colin and Dr. Racelis discuss whether cover crops...

In this episode of Voices from the Field, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Colin Mitchell talks with Matt Kutugata about using drones in agriculture. Before Matt started pursuing his Ph.D. in Agronomy from Texas A&M, he worked with Colin and the rest of NCAT’s Southwest Regional office team on the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative as a graduate researcher at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley. Much of Matt’s research has been driven by data gathered by drones. He and Colin discuss ways drones increasingly are being used in agriculture, including scouting agricultural operations and using multispectral cameras to monitor cover...

Cover crops can be an investment in your future soil health. And it’s legume cover crops that can deliver a lasting soil benefit that other cover crop options don’t: nitrogen.
By Colin Mitchell, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist ...