Farmers’ Evaluation of Cover Crop Effects on Sandy Soils in the Suwannee River Basin in North Florida

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2017: $14,744.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Kevin Athearn
University of Florida


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cover crops


    Despite numerous benefits described in the literature (CTIC 2016, SARE 2016, USDA 2014), the rate of Florida cover crop adoption is among the lowest in the nation- around 2.6% of total farms or 1.4% of managed acres (NASS 2012).  Low cover crop adoption rates inherently jeopardize the sustainability of agriculture in the area through lost opportunity for conservation and possibly less economic resilience. Understanding the barriers to adoption, current knowledge level of soil health, and comparative economics on the feasibility of cover crops in our region through the use of 12 on-farm demonstrations will allow us to document farmer's perspectives on cover crops. Taking before and after soil health data for comparison will show where improvements can be made in our sandy Florida soils. Hosting field days and discussions, creating diverse educational resources, and testing diverse species blends and production methods will afford us greater understanding and direction for cover crop recommendations.  Participation of farmers in the process of discovering barriers and opportunities for understanding will lead to greater ownership of the research, which will accelerate adoption on more acres while stewarding the use of natural resources.


    Project objectives:

    Objective 1: Collaborate with farmers to better understand their challenges and logistics of adoption

    Objective 2: Test cover crops on-farm using measurements specific to their desired outcome

    Objective 3: Create outreach materials and venues for sharing specifics on cover crop economics, planting, and benefit.


    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.