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4 21 cover crops
 

4 21 cover crops

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    4 21 cover crops 4 21 cover crops Presentation Transcript

    • Cover Crops
    • Introduction
      • Definitions:
        • Cover crop – a crop planted between main crops to prevent erosion or to be plowed in to enrich the soil
        • Green Manure – a growing crop that is plowed in to enrich the soil
      • The backbone of a sustainable crop system
    • Legumes
      • Able to “fix” nitrogen
      • Nitrogen in atmosphere unavailable for plant use
      • Bacteria in nodules converts inert nitrogen to nitrates
      • Extra nitrogen fertilizer is not required
      • Examples: peas, beans, alfalfa & clovers
    • The Industrial Model
      • Crop planted in spring
      • Pesticides used to control insects and weeds
      • Crop harvested in fall
      • Land left fallow in winter
      • Land fertilized in late winter
      • Land sprayed with herbicides in early spring
      • Crop planted in spring
    • Benefits of Cover Crops
      • Prevent Erosion
      • Improve soil quality
      • Suppress weeds
      • Reduce insects
      • Prevent nutrient leaching
    • Prevent Erosion
      • Roots hold topsoil in place
      • Water & wind strip topsoil from land
      • Sediment clogs waterways
        • Major water pollution problem
      • Tillage exposes soil to erosion
        • Use No-till techniques
    • Improve Soil quality
      • Root depth
        • Deep rooted crops break through compacted subsoils – biological plow
      • Soil aggregates
        • Decomposed organic material (humus) binds mineral portion of soil in stable aggregates
    • Soil quality
      • Soil Organic Matter
        • Replaces organic materials lost in cultivation
      • Soil Fertility
        • Roots of legumes returns fixed nitrogen to the soil
    • Suppress Weeds
      • Cover crops shade soil
        • Blocks sun to low-growing weeds
        • Reduces weed seed germination
      • Residue left after harvest acts as mulch
        • Prevents weed seed contact with soil
      • Allelopathy – some plant roots secrete natural toxins that slow the growth of competitor plants
        • Small grains like ryegrass & sorghum
    • Reduce Insect Problems
      • Provides habitat for diverse insect populations
      • Increases the population of “predator” bugs
    • Prevent nutrient leaching
      • Stops phosphorus pollution from sediment
      • Absorbs excess nitrogen from fertilized crops and returns it in more stable form
    • Cover crop models
      • Winter cover crop
      • Summer green manure crop
      • Living mulch
      • Catch Crop
      • Forage Crop
    • Cover Crop Model
      • Winter cover crop
        • Planted in fall – prevents erosion over the winter
        • Legumes increase soil nitrogen for next summer’s crop
      • Summer green manure crop
        • Plant in late winter - early spring and plow under
        • Increases soil organic matter
        • Legumes add nitrogen
        • Non-legumes smother weeds
    • Others
      • Living mulch
        • Plant vegetables into clover beds
        • Strips of grasses in alley ways between perennial crops
      • Catch crop
        • Plant rye after corn to collect excess nitrogen
      • Forage crop
        • Cover crop grown for grazing
    • Killing cover crops
      • Need to kill the cover crop before you can plant the main crop
        • Pesticide
          • Glyphosate (Round-up) kills all plant material
        • Mowing
          • Mowing at proper stage prevents regrowth
        • Crimping
          • Stalks are bent down and cracked
        • Winter kills
          • Annual cover crops are killed by frost
    • Buckwheat
      • Legume
      • Roots very fibrous but not deep
      • Adds nitrogen to the soil
      • Plant in spring or fall
      • Used to fight weeds
    • Clovers
      • Legumes
      • Live about 2 years
      • Plant in spring or fall
      • Kill & turn under 4 weeks before planting crop
      • Used to
        • Add nitrogen
        • Build soil
        • Resist erosion
        • Fight weeds
    • Cowpeas, soybeans or field peas
      • Legumes
      • Annual
      • Used to:
        • control erosion
        • Build soil nitrogen
    • Sorghum/Sudan grass
      • Very vigorous root growth
      • Used to:
        • Build soil
        • Loosen subsoil
        • Fight pests
    • Winter rye, wheat or oats
      • Winter rye & wheat – grow during the winter
      • Oats and regular wheat grow in spring and fall
      • Annuals (die every year)
      • Extensive root system
      • Grow rapidly in proper season
      • Build soil, fight weeds and pests
    • Root boxes
      • Plant your cover crop
      • Measure weekly:
        • Vegetative height
        • Root depth
    • Wrap - up
      • What difference do you expect in the soil nitrogen levels after the crop is turned under?
      • What do you expect to change when we test the soil again in June?
      • Which plant root structures will penetrate the deepest in the boxes?  
      • How can you protect your garden soil from erosion?