Estimated Costs for a winter cover crop in an annual crop rotation

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This cost study models the planting and management of a winter cover crop in a summer crop rotation planted in the lower Sacramento Valley of California. The rotation may include processing tomatoes, corn, sunflower, safflower, sorghum, and/or dry beans, as well as other summer annual crops. This study models a field following harvest of processing tomatoes in the fall and a planned rotation into a spring planted field crop.

The most commonly grown cover crop species are selected from three plant families: Leguminosae (such as bell beans, peas, clover, and vetch), Brassicaceae (such as mustard, turnip, and radish), and Poaceae (such as barley, oats, wheat, rye, and triticale). A mix of vetch, peas, and rye were used for this cost study.

Cover crops are plant species selected and grown for their protective and beneficial contributions to soil quality and function. They are not intended or managed as a cash crop and provide an alternative to fallowing. No consideration of an economic return is included in this cost study. A wide diversity of cover crop species and mixes are available for a variety of soil and crop health benefits. This cost study models the planting and management of a cover crop during the winter fallow period in an annual rotation on a per acre basis.

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