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Cover Cropping

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 Publications

Biofumigant Cover Cropping in Potatoes: Dale Gies (Farmer to Farmer Case Study Series)

Yorgey, G.G., S.I. Kantor, C.E. Kruger, K.M. Painter, H. Davis, and L.A. Bernacchi. 2017. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication 693, Pullman, WA.

Rotational Diversification and Intensification

Kirby, E., W. Pan, D. Huggins, K. Painter, P. Bista. 2017. Chapter 5 In Yorgey, G. and C. Kruger, eds. Advances in Dryland Production Systems in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State University Extension, Pullman, WA.

Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest

Georgine Yorgey and Chad Kruger, Eds. 2017. Washington State University Extension. Pullman, WA.

Grazed cover cropping: Drew Leitch (Farmer to Farmer Case Study Videos)

Yorgey, G.G., K. Borrelli, and K. Painter. 2017. Produced by Darrell Kilgore and WSU CAHNRS Communications. Pullman, WA.

Farmer to Farmer Case Study Video: Grazed Cover Cropping

Yorgey, G.G., K. Borrelli, and K. Painter. 2017. Produced by Darrell Kilgore and CAHNRS Communications. Pullman, WA. Drew Leitch is experimenting with cover cropping to provide supplemental feed for his cow-calf operation, while improving soil health for his dryland crop operation.

Stripper Header and Direct Seeding: Ron and Andy Juris (Farmer to Farmer Case Study Series)

Yorgey, G.G., K. Borrelli, K.M. Painter, and H. Davis. 2017. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication 694, Pullman, WA.

Soil Fertility in Organic Systems: A Guide for Gardeners and Small Acreage Farmers

Collins,D. C. Miles, C. Cogger, R. Koenig. 2013.  Pacific Northwest Extension Publication PNW646.

Reduced Tillage on Organic Farms Virtual Field Day

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.

Potential nitrogen contributions from legumes in Pacific Northwest apple orchards

Mullinix, K. and Granatstein, D. 2011. Intl. J. Fruit Sci. 11:74-87.

Mustard Green Manures

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.

Cover Crops Influence Meadow Vole Presence in Organic Orchards

M. R. Wiman, Kirby, E. M., Granatstein, D. M., Sullivan, T. P. HortTechnology July–September 2009 19(3).

Vole populations, tree fruit orchards, and living mulches

Sullivan, T. 2006. Research report to CSANR.

 

Additional Publications

Cover crops in orchards and vineyards

WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center webpage. Contains links to additional resources and presentations.

Influence of orchard floor management and compost application timing on N partitioning in organically managed apple trees

TerAvest, D., J.L. Smith, L. Carpenter-Boggs, L. Hoagland, D. Granatstein, and J.P. Reganold. 2010. HortScience. 45:637-642.

Sustainability trade-offs in organic orchard floor management

Granatstein, D., Wiman, M., Kirby, E., Mullinix, K. 2010. Acta Hort. 873:115-122.

Research knowledge and needs for orchard floor management in organic tree fruit systems

Granatstein, D. and E. Sanchez. 2009. Intl. J. Fruit Science 9:257-281.

Comparing tillage and mulching for organic orchard performance

Wiman, M., Kirby, E., Granatstein, D., Mullinix, K. 2008. Poster presented at 2008 BIOAg Research Symposium.

Mulching options for Northwest organic and conventional orchards

Granatstein, D. and K. Mullinix. 2008. HortScience 43(1):45-50.

Effects of Ground Cover Management Strategies on Yield and Nitrogen Supply in Organic Apple Production Systems

Poster presentation – BIOAg Research Symposium 2008.

Cover Crops as a Floor Management Strategy for Pacific Northwest Vineyards

Olmstead, M. 2006. EB2010, WSU Extenson.

Using Leguminous Cover Crops as a Nitrogen Source for Organic Grape Production – September 2005

Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter

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