Cover crops are a “bio” technology that is underutilized in contemporary U.S. agriculture. Cover crops can serve many purposes on a farm, including nutrient conservation, soil erosion control, improved water infiltration and quality, reduced weed and pest pressure, increased biodiversity, and better soil quality. Many plants can be used as cover crops, such as rye, clovers, sudangrass, mustard, buckwheat, and lupine. They can be grown between cash crops when soil would normally be bare, or integrated into cash crops through relay planting or intercropping. There is considerable information on cover crops from prior to the 1950s that is applicable today. In addition, current research and experience with cover crops is opening opportunity for new ideas such as direct seeding grains into cover crops and cover crops for bioremediation of soil-borne diseases.
Featured Cover Cropping Publications
Collins,D. C. Miles, C. Cogger, R. Koenig. 2013. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication PNW646.
WSU researchers and extension educators are researching different methods for reducing tillage in organic vegetable production. This video demonstrates termination of barley and vetch cover crops with a roller/crimper and flail mower.
Mullinix, K. and Granatstein, D. 2011. Intl. J. Fruit Sci. 11:74-87.
On-farm research has been conducted since 1999 to determine the benefits of mustard green manures and to improve their effectiveness. They are being used in irrigated regions of Eastern Washington to improve soil quality, control wind erosion, and manage soilborne pests.
M. R. Wiman, Kirby, E. M., Granatstein, D. M., Sullivan, T. P. HortTechnology July–September 2009 19(3).
Sullivan, T. 2006. Research report to CSANR.
Additional Cover Cropping Publications
WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center webpage. Contains links to additional resources and presentations.
Granatstein, D., Wiman, M., Kirby, E., Mullinix, K. 2010. Acta Hort. 873:115-122.
TerAvest, D., J.L. Smith, L. Carpenter-Boggs, L. Hoagland, D. Granatstein, and J.P. Reganold. 2010. HortScience. 45:637-642.
Granatstein, D. and E. Sanchez. 2009. Intl. J. Fruit Science 9:257-281.
Wiman, M., Kirby, E., Granatstein, D., Mullinix, K. 2008. Poster presented at 2008 BIOAg Research Symposium.
Granatstein, D. and K. Mullinix. 2008. HortScience 43(1):45-50.
Poster presentation – BIOAg Research Symposium 2008.
Olmstead, M. 2006. EB2010, WSU Extenson.
Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter
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