Cropping System to Improve Vegetable Production Under Short Crop Rotation

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2004: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: cucurbits, tomatoes


  • Crop Production: cover crops, nutrient cycling
  • Pest Management: allelopathy
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis

    Proposal abstract:

    Intensive production of vegetables over the years has led to short rotations. Our goal is to develop a novel cropping system through the integration of both summer and winter cover crops for sustaining vegetable production. The crop rotation pattern used in the study is a cucumber- tomato rotation. The trend of using winter cover crops in vegetable production systems has been increasing over the past few years. Early plantings of cucumbers provide a short window of opportunity to growers wishing to grow late summer cover crops in addition to the existing practice of winter cover cropping. There is a need to know which cover crop systems are suited to growers’ need and how to fit them into a short vegetable rotation so as to reap maximum benefits. Our study was established at a progressive grower’s farm at Benton Harbor, MI using a combination of summer cover crops (cowpea and sorghum sudangrass) and winter cover crops (hairy vetch and cereal rye). Evaluation procedures include measuring the effectiveness of the cropping systems in a) improving soil fertility and soil structure; b) providing non-chemical weed suppression and impact on weed species competition; c) improving soil microbial activity; d) enhancing overall yield and yield quality. At the conclusion of the project we will propose to tomato and cucumber growers, a suitable cropping system that will optimize sustainability, reduce weed pressure and improve soil fertility. We will utilize extension publications and presentations at growers’ meetings to reach other growers in the North Central region.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Objective 1: Effectiveness of summer and winter cover crops at improving soil organic matter, soil structure, and soil fertility under vegetable production systems. Objective 2: Effect of the cropping systems on soil microbial activity. Objective 3: Effects of cropping systems on weed populations. Objective 4: Effects of cropping systems on cucumber yield and yield quality.
    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.