- Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
Research has established the benefits of integrating cover crops into crop rotations on soil health, plant nutrition, and integrated pest management (IPM). Widespread adoption of cover crops into vegetable production systems in the Mid-South region however has not yet been observed. Lack of awareness of the benefits of cover crops and management techniques likely contributes to the lack of cover crop adoption in the region. In order to combat this lack of knowledge this project seeks to develop cover crop curricula to train select UACES Extension agents and NRCS agents who will then deliver effective trainings to growers and thereby increase cover crop adoption in the state.
In order to increase the use of cover crops as a management technique for vegetable production systems in the Mid-South region, growers and Extension personnel must be appropriately educated. This project seeks to provide such education in Arkansas by using UACES Horticulture Specialists and a NRCS Agronomist in a “train-the-trainer” model to educate UACES County Extension agents, NRCS agents and grower “leaders”. These trainees will then train other agents and growers on cover crop use. We expect to increase agents’ abilities to make recommendations on the use of cover crops and to subsequently increase grower’s adoption of cover crops.
Project objectives from proposal:
- At the end of the two year project a minimum of 30 UACES and 20 NRCS agents trained in workshops will be able to answer basic questions with 80% proficiency on cover crop: selection, management and impacts on soil health and IPM. Improved agent knowledge regarding cover crop management will result in increases in cover crop recommendations to their clientele.
- In the year following the termination of the project 75% of workshop participants will conduct a training in their local area reaching a minimum of 300 new farmers statewide, who will increase their knowledge and capacity to manage cover crops resulting in increased adoption of cover crops into vegetable production systems in the years following training participation.
- A suite of educational materials will be produced and shared with agencies across the Mid-south reaching a minimum of 500 people in the region in the second year who will increase their knowledge of and capacity to implement cover crops into vegetable production systems.
- Collaboration with three Arkansas growers who effectively integrate cover crops into their vegetable production systems will highlight their successes to agents and growers in the region which will reinforce knowledge learned in workshops and contribute to increases in cover crop adoption by new growers in the years following the project.