Benefits, barriers, and use of cover crops in the western US: Regional survey results

L.A. Golden, M.L. Hubbard, S. Utych, S.M. Newman, S. Hines, J. Thomas, N. Andrews, R.L. Som Castellano, D.P. Collins and C. Sullivan

Published in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation March 2023

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Cover crops provide known benefits to water, air, and soil quality. The western United States is a large cropping region where data on cover crop use are lacking. In this study, we draw on data from a 2020 survey of western farmers from 13 states and territories to broaden the understanding of current cover crop use … Read the rest

Monitoring Soil Nitrate to Estimate Cover Crop Nitrogen Contribution in Organic Vegetable Production Fields

Authors: Nick Andrews, Dan M. Sullivan, and Kristin Pool, Oregon State University

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Organic vegetable growers rely on legume cover crops as an economical source of plant-available  N. This research evaluated N contributions to summer vegetable crops by cover crops (CC)  residues by monitoring soil nitrate (NO3-N) concentrations during the summer crop growing season. Replicated field plots were established with three CC mixes: solo common vetch (V),  phacelia + V (PV), and cereal rye + V (RV), plus a winter fallow (F) control in grower fields in the north Willamette Valley OR. Soil textures were … Read the rest

Estimated Costs for a Winter Cover Crop in an Annual Crop Rotation

Authors: Sarah Light – UC Cooperative Extension Agronomy Advisor, Sutter, Yuba, Colusa Counties; Margaret Lloyd – UC Cooperative Extension Small Farms Advisor, Yolo, Solano, Sacramento Counties; Helaine Berris – Graduate Student, UC Davis, Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources; Donald Stewart – Staff Research Associate, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis; Brittney Goodrich – UC Cooperative Extension Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis

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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 … Read the rest

SIFT 2021: A Small-Scale Urban Intensive Farm Contributes to a Resilient Food System

Authors: John Wallace and Andrew Coggins, NCAT Agriculture Specialists

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NCAT’s Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training program (SIFT) operates a high-altitude urban demonstration farm in Butte, Montana, that is focused on production of food for the good of the community. This publication provides details on the role that the farm plays in educating and producing food for the community. It highlights ongoing cover crop experiments, fruit tree propagation, and water-conservation strategies at the farm, as well as construction of a new high tunnel.… Read the rest

Economic Considerations of Growing Bee-Friendly Cover Crops in Almond Orchards: Grower and Beekeeper Perspectives

Authors: Marieke Fenton and Brittney Goodrich

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Planting bee-friendly cover crops in almond orchards can improve honey bee colony health and lower beekeepers’ costs of feeding, while also providing soil health benefits. However, for the full bee-health benefits to be realized, growers must plant in the fall and receive timely rains or have access to irrigation between orchard rows. In this publication, the authors review benefits and considerations for both growers and beekeepers of this potentially mutually beneficial practice.… Read the rest

Cover crop calculator – Economics

This interactive calculator is a decision-support tool that estimates the costs and benefits of winter cover cropping in almond and processing tomato operations in California’s Central Valley. The tool estimates how much farmers can expect their profits to change after growing winter cover crops for a certain number of years. All values that are used in the calculator are flexible and can be adjusted to match the reality on your farm. The tool was designed for farmers who are interested in growing winter cover crops and who want to understand how long it will for that investment to break even. … Read the rest

Overcoming Barriers to Cover Crop use in Hazelnut Production

Authors: Shannon Cappellazzi, Abigail Tomasek, Nik Wiman

This project will collect and communicate information that will help producers incorporate cover crops into hazelnut production. We will conduct a survey to identify the major barriers for grower adoption and aggregate data on the methods and practices local producers are using to make cover crops work. We will conduct follow up interviews to create a partial budget analysis comparing net farm profitability after a change to new practices. We will perform in-field soil health assessments, and collect soil and tissue samples from interested growers’ fields. This analysis will provide data to demonstrate … Read the rest

Cover Crops Database – UCANR

In an effort to make information on specific cover crop species available and easily accessible, the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program created the cover crop database, first released in 1999 (and it remains one of the most highly visited features of UC SAREP’s extensive website). The database contains detailed entries for over 40 commonly used cover crop species. For each crop, a summary of key factors is provided, including: Seed, seedling and mature plant descriptions and pictures Ideal temperature and geographic range Soil, water and nutrient considerations Management details including planting and termination dates, maintenance issues, mowing, … Read the rest

Building on Farmer Experience to Increase Cover Crops Adoption in Orchards and Vineyards

Sonja Brodt, UCANR

This project is creating an online searchable database of best management practices as implemented in California’s southern Sacramento Valley and North Coast regions, by orchard and vineyard growers experienced in cover cropping. The project will also provide detailed case studies of grower cover cropping strategies, organize field tours of successful cover cropping operations, and link to information on the latest cover crops research.… Read the rest