Growing cover crops is a crucial component for the development of sustainable agriculture management strategies in the Southern United States. In order to facilitate adoption of cover cropping and to streamline research and Extension efforts, farmers, research and extension specialists, and federal and NGO representatives from 13 states and territories in the Southern region have worked to create a Southern Cover Crop Council (SCCC) with support from Southern SARE.
During the SCCC planning process, farmers proposed developing a mobile-friendly website with a Regional Cover Crop Resource Guide to assist farmers with cover crop implementation. The Guide will be organized by production system, then by major physiographic regions. Additional information may be incorporated as needed. Content will be provided by cooperating members of the SCCC and approved by a Review Committee.
This education proposal will fund the development of the web structure of the SCCC including home page, resource guide, news and current events, and contact pages. The project leverages a Special Projects grant from Georgia NRCS to develop a pilot Guide section for row crop farmers in the Coastal Plain and Mountains/Ridge and Valley/Piedmont. To ensure inclusiveness and opportunity for diverse institutions, part of this proposed funding will be used for three mini-grants to develop a particular Guide section.
Integrating cover crops into farmers’ systems promotes stewardship of the environment by enhancing the quality and productivity of the soil, conserving water resources by reducing water use and protecting water quality, and reducing the need for chemical inputs by breaking pest and disease cycles. The rationale behind this project is that making information easily accessible for a farmer’s particular production system and physiographic region will increase cover crop use among farmers/ranchers. Increased adoption of cover cropping will result in better protection of soil and water resources, and a greater economic return to the farmer/rancher.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Create website Review Committee.
- Create and distribute a call for mini-grant proposals to populate particular production/physiographic region sections.
- Develop a website structure for the SCCC information, including the home page, Regional Cover Crop Resource Guide, news and current events and contact pages. Populate four physiographic region-production system sections of Regional Cover Crop Resource Guide.
- Beta-testing and website effectiveness evaluation.
- Market the Regional Cover Crop Resource Guide.