Covering New Ground: Tropical Cover Crops for Improving Soil Quality

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $84,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $54,000.00
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Richard Bowen
Department of Nat Res and Envir Mngt

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: sorghum (milo)


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health


    This project was established to collect, improve access to, and distribute information about cover crops and green manures appropriate for the Pacific Region. The project has successfully developed a list of 26 plant species (with 17 more possible candidates) and provided plant descriptions available at a web site. Information from the web site can be printed out and a search engine can be used to gather specific information. In conjunction with the development of this body of web-based information, a series of 11 demonstration sites were established on 6 islands. They demonstrated the use of cover crops or green manures under different crop production systems that represent local farmer needs. A training workshop was held with participation from representatives from CES, NRCS, local farmers, private agricultural consultants, professionals from Community Colleges, and agricultural professionals from Guam, Palau, and Kosrae. The workshop included segments about the use of cover crops/green manures, a cover crop/green manure recommendation exercise, a computer exercise to use the web site database, classroom and field exercises in soil quality, and a visit to a cover crop/green manure demonstration site. During the final phase of the project, workshops and/or field days were held at each demonstration site. The website was further refined. The cover crop/green manure information from the database was incorporated onto a CD-ROM and into a series of leaflets about the tropical cover crops and green manures.

    Project objectives:

    1. Determine a set of 20 tropical cover/green manure crops suitable for Hawai`i and the Pacific Region and promote their use.

    2. Improve access to information on tropical cover/green manure crops so that agricultural professionals can make better recommendations and producers can make better management decisions. Make cover/green manure crop information accessible in print, CD-ROM, and a web-based database.

    3. Establish 10 cover crop demonstration sites representing different tropical crops and cropping systems to gain experience and prepare for field days for the public.

    4. Carry out CES & NRCS training about selection and economic impacts of cover/green manure crops. Link training in the use of cover crops to soil quality measurements in cover cropped areas. Include crop recommendation exercises.

    5. CES & NRCS Agents apply their knowledge by conducting cover crop training for the public via field days at demonstration sites.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.