On-Farm Cover Crop Use, Evaluation, and Data Sharing with the Western Cover Crop Council

Project Overview

WRGR19-02
Project Type: Research to Grass Roots
Funds awarded in 2019: $49,983.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G135-20-W7507
Grant Recipients: WSU; Oregon State University; University of Idaho
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Co-Investigators:
Nick Andrews
Oregon State University
Lauren Golden
University of Idaho
Clare Sullivan
Oregon State University

Commodities

  • Vegetables: beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, radishes (culinary)

Practices

  • Crop Production: catch crops, conservation tillage, cover crops, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, crop rotation
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, participatory research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: strip cropping
  • Soil Management: green manures

    Proposal abstract:

    Cover crops are an important tool in many production situations. They can be effective for weed suppression, preventing nutrient leaching and soil erosion, increasing soil organic matter, improving soil tilth, and fixing atmospheric nitrogen. Previously funded SARE projects SW14-013, SW11-122, SW11-072, and SW07-014 have shown the importance of cover crop selection for achieving particular goals and also how planting date, planting rate, termination date, and termination strategy can affect weed and nutrient dynamics. Similar efforts by NRCS have also contributed knowledge and tools for effective cover crop use (i.e. a cover crop decision tool). Through this proposal, our team will use previously funded WSARE cover crop research to implement on-farm demonstrations and use the Western Cover Crop Council (WCCC) as the venue to share this information with Western regional farmers. Specifically, we will:

    1. Support on-farm cover crop demonstrations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to highlight success from previous SARE cover crop projects. Demonstrations will show how variety, planting rate, planting date, and fertility practices affect specific management goals.
    2. Develop simple and systematic cover crop evaluation criteria for farmers. Evaluation criteria will assist in information sharing and be applied to on-farm demonstrations to effectively collate results. Results and the criteria will be shared on the WCCC website.
    3. Introduce producers to the recently developed NRCS Pacific Northwest Cover Crop Selection Tool, a Microsoft Access Database, and provide feedback on improving the tool content and accessibility.
    4. Share project results through regional conferences and field days.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1. Support on-farm cover crop demonstrations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to highlight success from previous SARE cover crop projects. Demonstrations will show how variety, planting rate, planting date, and fertility practices affect specific management goals. Named varieties will be used when possible. Demonstrations: 3 summer (Year 1), 6 winter and 3 summer (Year 2), and 3 winter (Year 3).

    Objective 2. Develop simple and systematic cover crop evaluation criteria for farmers. A consistent criteria for cover crop evaluation will facilitate knowledge sharing across regions and provide robust information for a selection tool. We will develop an evaluation system that will guide cover crop evaluation and research for unreplicated demonstrations such as those proposed for this project to more involved trials (Year 1).

    Objective 3.   Introduce producers to the recently developed NRCS Pacific Northwest Cover Crop Selection Tool, which is currently a Microsoft Access Database, and provide feedback on improving the tool content and accessibility. Host a WCCC training webinar featuring Annie Young-Mathews (co-creator of the database10) in January 2020 (Year 1) for agriculture professionals. Work one-on-one or in small groups with growers to use the tool in an effort to design the on-farm demonstrations for this proposal (Years 1 and 2) then collate feedback on the tool and include recommendations for improving the content and accessibility (Year 3).

    Objective 4.   Share project results through regional conferences and field days. At least one outreach event will occur at demonstration farms in each cooperating state WA, OR, and ID during each year of the project (Years 1, 2, and 3).  In addition, the project, decision tool, and results will be featured at state meetings in WA, OR, and ID (Years 2 and 3).

    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.