Evaluation of Cover Crops and Conservation Tillage for Conventional and Organic Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) Production in North Carolina
Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) is one of the most economically important crops in North Carolina, supplying 37% of the nation’s market and generating over 55.7 million dollars a year (North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCSA & CS), 1997). Due to their nutritive value, sweetpotatoes are ranked the ninth most important food crop in the world (Rubatzky, 1997). A study will be performed to explore organic and conventional sweetpotato management using a systems approach. The influence of insect and disease pressure, soil physical properties, and weed competition on root set will be quantified. The impact of cover crops species will also be measured. An economic analysis will be conducted to document production costs for each system. Sweetpotato growers, buyers, and extension agents will be involved in field demonstrations and outreach experiences. Results of research findings will be disseminated to the public as well as presented at a scientific meeting.
1. To explore organic and conventional sweetpotato management with a systems approach to production by examining the influence of insect and disease pressure, soil physical properties, and weed competition on root set.
2. To investigate the impact of reduced tillage practices on sweetpotato quality and yield.
3. To evaluate the influence of cover crop species to maximize their benefits on sweetpotato yield and quality and to identify a suitable cover crop that will modify the soil environment for optimum growth and development of sweetpotato.
4. Evaluate the economics of conventional verses organic production in terms of cost effectiveness and product return to serve as a guide for growers who are interested in producing organic sweetpotatoes.
5. To participate in outreach and education events for growers, buyers and extension agents, and present my results at a scientific meeting.