This project was developed after hearing a cover crop farmer at a local watershed meeting argue that no matter how many benefits cover crops have, the largest farmers will never use them because they have too many acres to do this amount of management. Field salad completes its life-cycle almost completely outside of the corn and soybean growing season potentially removing the management barrier to using cover crops.
This project will assess field salad’s ability to function as a cover crop in a corn and soybean rotation without additional management. Corn and soybean yields will be compared with and without a field salad cover crop under three different kinds of management (organic, no-till, and conventional). Weed pressure under these different scenarios will also be measured.
Developing field salad as a cover crop has the potential to address all three of NCR-SARE’s goals. It protects our natural resources by helping expand cover crop adoption beyond current levels. Field salad may improve the lives of farmers by making cover crops an option for farmers who are not normally involved in these kinds of conservation practices. Farm profitability could also be improved by decreasing the cost of using cover crops.
Project objectives from proposal:
Action Objectives: Determine whether field salad is compatible with organic, no-till and conventional cropping systems. In particular, can it re-establish itself, not negatively impact yield, provide additional soil cover, and does it offer any weed suppression.
Learning Objectives: Presentations on the study’s results and farmer co-operator experiences will look to reach farmers who have not yet tried cover crops, especially those who thought cover crops involved too much management. Farmers attending these meetings will be asked to fill out a survey on their attitudes and experiences with cover crops and whether learning about field salad changes them.