Georgia Organics conference includes sessions from the industry’s best

by Sharon Dowdy, University of Georgia

More than 1,000 farmers, gardeners, health advocates and organic food lovers are expected to attend the 2017 Georgia Organics Conference and Expo. This year’s schedule includes farm tours, 10 in-depth workshops, 32 educational sessions, three daylong intensive workshops, two keynote addresses, one-on-one consulting sessions and a trade show.

Registration ends on Monday, Feb. 6, for this year’s conference. The two-day annual event, one of the largest sustainable agriculture expos in the South, is set for Feb. 17-18 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.  Continue reading

Study shows importance of sustainable agriculture in preserving Gulf ecosystem

By Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Dissolved organic carbon that enters the ocean through river runoff is a necessary food for aquatic microbes that are vital to water quality and health. However, too much dissolved organic carbon is not a good thing for water quality or for aquatic life.

From 1901 to 2010, the amount of dissolved organic carbon entering the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River increased by 40 percent. A University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment researcher led a study that shows the increase is mainly due to human activity but sustainable agricultural practices are slowing the increase compared to previous ones. Continue reading

Planting cover crops ensures healthy, productive soil next season

University of Arkansas

As farmers finish harvesting their summer crops, they should consider planting cover crops to revitalize their soil’s nutrient content, Shaun Francis, Extension horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said. When seeded in the fall and grown throughout the winter, crops such as grains, grasses or legumes can help ensure healthy, productive soil for the next growing season.

“Cover crops are not grown for harvest, but rather to protect and improve soils,” he said. “They are commonly referred to as ‘green manure’ because at the end of their growing cycle, cover crops should be terminated and tilled back into the soil, where nutrients are released as the plants decay.” Continue reading

NCSU scientists look at cover crops to suppress pigweed

In Southeast Farm Press

by John Hart, Southeast Farm Press

With herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth becoming an ever increasing problem, cotton farmers are looking for non-chemical methods to control their number one weed worry. Cover crops may be one tool that delivers results.

Researchers at North Carolina State University are looking at the effect of a cereal rye/crimson cover crop mulch on cotton emergence, soil temperature, soil moisture, weed suppression and cotton yield in conventional and organic weed control scenarios at three locations across North Carolina. Continue reading

Summer Cover Crops for No-Till Production of Late-Season Vegetables For Soil Health and Weed Control

Come see cover cropping in action!  No-till vegetable production, which uses a cover crop mulch to suppress weed growth during the vegetable growing season, offers a more sustainable approach to weed management than the frequent use of herbicides and tillage. This is an especially valuable tool for organic farmers who do not use synthetic herbicides and therefore must rely on frequent cultivation and tillage for weed control.  In this workshop the focus will be on summer or warm-season cover crops for use in no-till production of fall vegetables. Participants will learn about selecting and managing cover crops for no-till vegetable production. They will also have an opportunity to view different summer cover crops in research plots at Clemson’s Coastal Research & Education Center Farm, and see termination of cover crops using a roll-crimper attachment. Continue reading

Georgia Farmer Barry Martin Shares His Perspective on Cover Crops

Barry Martin is a Hawkinsville, Ga., farmer who plants peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum, and uses strip till. He plants a cover crop in large part to control weeds, such as the herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth. “A good cover of rye seems to prevent its germination,” he says. Learn more (watch the video).

Farmers share their perspectives on cover crops in SARE video series

“If somebody posed the question—would I farm without cover crops—I would say no,” insists Kirk Brock, who grows corn, soybeans and peanuts on 1,000 acres in Monticello, Fla. His cover crop of choice, cereal rye, protects his hilly ground from erosion, and helps with weed control and moisture retention.

Brock is one of nearly two dozen farmers featured in SARE’s Cover Crop Innovators video series. From row crops to diversified vegetables, these farmers explain how and why cover crops are an indispensable part of their rotations. Cover crops improve yields, protect the soil, retain moisture, increase organic matter and provide many other benefits, and acreage planted to cover crops is increasing across the country, according to a four-year national survey.

Go to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education website to find cover crop stories in your region.