Kicking off a new project to estimate nutrient cycling from cover crops this spring. Hoping to improve our ability to predict not only the amount of nutrient released but the timing. Collected samples from a diverse set of fields and species in the Northern Piedmont yesterday with the help of Tellus Agronomics.
If you are interested in soil health and cover cropping systems, you will want to attend the 2018 Virginia Farm to Table Conference scheduled for December 5 and 6 at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave. Noted speakers on soil and health include Dr. David Montgomery and Anne Bikle of Dig2Grow and authors of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health, and Growing A Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life.
Additionally, Mark Dempsey of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Patryk Battle of Living Web Farms — farmers from the Carolinas — will share how they get creative with cover crops, and other fertility and weed management systems. So whether you are interested in Small Scale, Low-till Organic & Sustainable Vegetable Systems or Stepping it Up with Cover Crops in Large-scale Commodity Crop Systems, you will want to take your seat and place at the Virginia Farm to Table Conference! The full conference program is viewable at http://blogs.ext.vt.edu/cover-crops-soil-health/files/2018/11/2018-Virginia-Farm-to-Table-Conference-PROGRAM.pdf
Presenters at the 2016 Southern SARE Cover Crop conference in North Carolina were asked to prepare informational fact sheets based on there presentation topics. Those have been posted to the Web and many contain great information!
Thought I would share a few cover crop photos taken last week from fields in Western Virginia.
A solid stand of oilseed radish, obviously planted early enough to develop good growth and has not yet succumbed to the cold.
A decent stand of broadcast-seeded small grain and hairy vetch
Late-planted barley that won’t grow much more until spring
Cover crops have many beneficial uses, but different species and mixtures will have particular strengths. For example, if the objective is adding organic matter or providing weed suppression, then cereal rye or similar choices may be best. If providing N for a following crop is the main goal, then an all-legume cover crop such as clover or vetch is probably the correct choice. More information on the potential beneficial uses of cover crops and targeting for specific soil health and agronomic benefits can be found here: