Science in Action to Improve the Sustainability of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Food Systems
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Perspectives on Sustainability - CSANR Blog
June 15, 2015
In the early 1990s, leaders in Washington’s agriculture and food communities had the vision to create an incubator for sustainable and organic agriculture research and education at Washington State University (WSU). Now more than two decades later the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources (CSANR) is a critical part of WSU’s sustainable agriculture efforts. Thanks to the groundwork laid by those early visionaries (many of whom are still actively engaged), WSU is a place where students, faculty and partners eagerly engage in sustainable and organic agriculture research, extension and educational activities.
June 11, 2015
Cover crop mixtures, known as “cocktails” by some, are being promoted as having benefits over cover crops planted as monocultures. As I described in Part I, I reviewed recent research results to get at the answer to the question, “are monocultures or polycultures better when it comes to cover crops?” I found that, for biomass production at least, monocultures were actually best (see Part I). Now, let’s look at other services provided by cover crops and compare polycultures and monocultures. (See an explanation of monocultures, polycultures, overyielding and transgressive overyielding here)
June 8, 2015
Planting cover crop mixtures is very popular right now. The practice has a feel-good aspect about it and, buoyed by the ecological theory, it fits with the current “mimic nature” strategy of agroecologists. In a previous blog post I demonstrated how difficult it is to do research on cover crop mixtures. Although difficult, there are intrepid researchers investigating this practice so I decided to see what they were finding. The results call into question the value of cover crop mixtures, as in many situations a monoculture cover crop would both produce more biomass and provide other desired services as well.