Cover Crops for Sustainable Pest Management and Soil Quality in Production Nurseries

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $175,920.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Dr. Paula Shrewsbury
University of Maryland

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, prevention
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    The major elements of this 3 year project are: 1) on-farm research to demonstrate cover crop species, methods of implementation, and benefits to pest management and soil quality in field production (tree and shrub) nurseries, 2) outreach in the form of field days at nurseries, presentations (by all project team members) at local and regional re-certification and nursery association conferences, and printed and web-based publications to extend information to beneficiaries (nursery growers, consultants, and extension personnel) and increase adoption of cover crop and other sustainable practices, and 3) impact assessment to verify changes in: practice (integration of cover crops into unique production system), knowledge (informed on what cover crops to use, their benefits, and how to integrate them), and attitudes (peaked interest in sustainable practices) by nursery growers using pre- and post-surveys, visits to nurseries, phone calls, and records kept by nursery collaborators. In addition, a committee of project beneficiaries (nursery collaborators, nursery growers, NRCS, USDA, extension and research personnel with expertise in IPM, entomology, soil science, weed science, cover crops) will be formed from which feedback will be solicited to assure the project stays on track.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 150 MD growers trained at field days and other events, a minimum of 25 that have never used cover crops in their nursery will use cover crops in at least one production field, and five nurseries will adopt one new ecologically based pest or soil management practice to reduce pest pressure or improve soil 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.