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

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

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

OSU Cover Crop Topic Page

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The OSU Forage Information System project draws on Oregon Extension and research faculty with assignments in the areas of forage and livestock systems to develop an integrated information resource to support forage and livestock system operators, public land managers, and those who advise and support these entities with 24-7 access to accurate, science-based, practical information.

This resource focuses on cover crops and their use in forage production rotations. … Read the rest

Equipment to manage Cover Crops in Annual Rotations

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One of the challenges with incorporating cover crops into annual rotations is uncertainty about which equipment can be used to manage them, specifically around cover crop termination. Last year UCCE Farm Advisors Sarah Light and Amber Vinchesi-Vahl hosted an equipment showcase field day specifically for cover crop management. One of the presenters was Brian Park from Park Farming Organics. Brian has been managing cover crops for many years and shared some of his experience with the equipment they use. In this article we share photos and descriptions of some of that equipment for those … Read the rest

Irrigated Warm Season Cover Crops for Western Oregon


Cover crop use is increasing in the Pacific Northwest, but information is not readily available on the growth potential, biomass production, adaptability, and bloom period of warm season cover crop species and/or varieties for this region. A study was conducted in 2015−2016 at the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) Plant Materials Center in Corvallis, Oregon to evaluate commercially available summer cover crops for the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. The replicated trial included ten warm- season species that were evaluated for emergence, canopy cover, vigor, pest and disease susceptibility, bloom period, plant … Read the rest

Cover Crops for Home Gardens

This fact sheet is one of a three-part series on cover crops for home gardeners. It focuses on choosing the best cover crops for gardens in Washington and Oregon, west of the Cascades. A companion fact sheet, Cover Crops for Home Gardens East of the Cascades, focuses on choosing the best cover crops for gardens in Washington and Oregon, east of the Cascades. The third fact sheet in this series, Methods for Successful Cover Crop Management in Your Home Garden, covers the management of garden cover crops, including planning, planting, managing nutrients, and terminating plants.

Access the fact … Read the rest