Clemson students studying ways to improve value of cover crops

In Southeast Farm Press

by Denise Attaway

A group of Clemson students is determining how to use shredded leaves to help increase the value of roller-crimped cover crops.

Cover crops are crops planted primarily to naturally manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil and water quality, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife. Roller-crimping involves attaching roller-crimpers to tractors, rolling over cover crops to flatten and damage them, leaving behind a thick mulch. Rye grass is the cover crop used in this study. Continue reading

Making Cover Crops Work in No-Till Vegetable Production

Join Clemson University cover crop specialists for a practical look at using cover crops for no-till production. We’ll start in the classroom for an update on our USDA cover crop research project, and a discussion on nuts and bolts information like varieties, seeding methods, seeding rates, termination methods, planting vegetables into residue, and lessons learned related to all those things. Then we’ll head to the field (Student Organic Farm in Clemson and CREC Research Farm in Charleston) to look at plots, cover crop termination, and depending on timing we could observe planting vegetables into residue. We’ll finish with lunch and Q&A. We’ll also have some print resources available.  Each participant will receive a copy of the Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education Program’s publication “Managing Cover Crops Profitably”.

Charleston, SC, April 19th

Coastal Research and Education Center

2700 Savannah Hwy

Clemson, SC, May 11th

Madren Conference Center

230 Madren Center Dr. Continue reading

Cover Crops Acting as Trap Crops Protect Vegetables from Pests

From Southern SARE

For farmers in central Florida, planting cover crops in strips as a trap crop alongside cash crops is proving to be a highly effective method for attracting beneficial insects and controlling pests. Farmers have been so pleased with the results that they have fully adopted the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy as an alternative to using chemical insecticides.

In a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, two small organic farms teamed up with the University of Florida to test the prevalence of beneficial and predatory insects in strip plantings of selected annual cover crops, such as sunflower, rye, triticale, sunn hemp and buckwheat. Continue reading

Funding opportunity: Supplemental and Alternative Crops (SACC)

The Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive (SACC) Grants Program will support the development of canola as a viable supplemental and alternative crop in the United States. The goal of the SACC program is to significantly increase crop production and/or acreage by developing and testing of superior germplasm, improving methods of planting, cultivation, and harvesting, and transferring new knowledge to producers (via Extension) as soon as practicable. Extension, education, and communication activities related to the research areas above must be addressed in the proposal. Continue reading

Southern SARE research shows cover crops reduce pest populations

Preliminary research from University of Florida has found that incorporating root-knot nematode-resistant cover crops in a perennial peanut rotation reduces pest numbers in the cash crop and improves yields.

The results may be helpful for producers who choose top-yielding, yet susceptible, peanut cultivars, as well as resistant cultivars that historically carry a lower yield. Root-knot nematodes, soil parasites predominant in areas with hot climates and short winters, can reduce perennial peanut yields and affect plant health by feeding on plant roots. Continue reading

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