Cover Crop Field Day for Dryland Farmers

Cover Crop Field Day for Dryland Farmers

As part of our Subtropical Soil Health Initiative, NCAT hosted a FREE field day for dryland farmers at Hilltop Gardens–near Lyford, Texas, on Thursday, June 6, 2019.

With grant funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative is testing and demonstrating the use of cover crops and other management practices to suppress weeds, conserve water, and build fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. We are sharing results with producers in South Texas and other parts of the subtropical south. We’re grateful to our project partners: the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Hilltop Gardens, and PPC Farms.

The historic home of aloe vera in the United States, Hilltop Gardens also grows organic grain sorghum. The field day focused on using cover crops in dryland farming systems, and showcased two different varieties of cowpea (red ripper iron & clay), including mixtures planted with sorghum-sudangrass. We shared research results related to:

  • costs and benefits of cover crops in a dryland system;
  • soil moisture use and retention by cover crops;
  • biomass production for building organic matter;
  • weed and insect suppression;
  • planting techniques and timing; and
  • yield differences in grain sorghum a year after our 2018 cover crop trials.

A second field day will be held within a few weeks at PPC Farms (Mission, Texas), focusing on using cover crops in organic vegetable farming.

The Subtropical Soil Health Initiative is funded by the Conservation Innovation Grants program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), under grant #69-3A75-17-281

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