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Improving Soil Quality & Cover Crops
Even though different soils have some properties that cannot be changed, such as texture, soil quality can be improved by implementing good management strategies. Soils can be improved for water holding capacity, drainage, structure, and even the ability for plant roots to penetrate through the soil.
This publication will help you understand the importance of soil organic matter levels to good plant performance. It contains suggestions for suitable soil amendments. Any soil, no matter how compacted, can be improved through the addition of organic matter. The result will be a better environment for almost any kind of plant.
Farmers and other land managers need reliable methods to assess soil quality so they can make management decisions that maintain long-term soil productivity. A group of Oregon farmers has identified 10 soil quality indicators for the Willamette Valley that can assess the impact of soil management. The indicators are specific to the cropping systems of the Willamette Valley. Take a look at the guide’s preview and decide if it may be a good resource for you.
Building Soils for Better Crops - SARE publication
Learn about the benefits and drawbacks of cover cropping and how to choose the right cover crop. Covers planting, relay interplanting, herbicide and pesticide considerations, conservation tillage, mowing, allelopathy, pests, and cover crop suppression and incorporation. Describes a method for estimating the nitrogen (N) contribution of cover crops to a following crop. Provides information on the varieties, environmental range, uses, dry matter and N accumulation, pest interactions, and management of 15 Oregon cover crops.
Common Oregon Cover Crops:
- Annual Ryegrass (html)
- Barley, Oats, Triticale, and Wheat (html)
- Buckwheat (html)
- Cereal Rye (html)
- Common Vetch (html)
- Crimson Clover (html)
- Fava Bean (html)
- Field Pea (html)
- Hairy Vetch (html)
- Rapeseed (html)
- Red Clover (html)
- Subterranean Clovers (html)
- Sudangrass and Sorghum-Sudangrass Hybrids (html)
Cover Crops in Vegetable Systems – WSU Research Project
Managing Cover Crops Profitably - SARE Publication
Northeast Cover Crop Handbook – Rodale Institute order form
Farmers and their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques - video – University of Vermont
Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers – Kansas State University
Healthy soils can improve crop and livestock production. Check out the ATTRA website for several valuable resources.
The Compost Connection - Washington State University – Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources