Use of Winter Cover Crops and Summer Soil Solarization in Sustainable Vegetable Production Systems
Few farmers have adopted cover crop and soil solarization practices in southern Louisiana and other parts of the deep South. This may be, in part, because many of these small-scale growers have not actually seen these practices put to use nor observed the results that they can produce. This project will enable farmers to actually observe the results of using cover crops and soil solarization in on-farm situations
In this project, three small-scale vegetable farmers will establish research/demonstration plots on their respective farms utilizing winter cover crops and soil solarization. Two experiments will be established on the farms of each of the three cooperating farmers, one of which is an organic farm.
This project is important because small scale vegetable producers in southern Louisiana and other parts of the deep South can produce vegetables practically all year. Because of this, many producers have winter and summer vegetables growing and, as a result, fail to use winter cover/green manure crops which can serve as soil builders, nitrogen suppliers, and possible suppressants of weed species. Winter cover crops also serve as refuges for beneficial insects, thus reducing the need for insecticides.
Soil solarization is another strategy for pest management which can be utilized by small-scale growers in the South. Soil solarization could significantly reduce weed pressure in succeeding crops, an important development since weeds are often the most serious pests in small scale vegetable operations. Soil solarization also has been found to reduce the severity of outbreaks by plant pathogens, and could reduce the presence of soil borne insects.
Southern University and A&M College