On the Farm

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Jun 10

Finding the Right Cover Crops for Our Area

Posted on June 10, 2019 at 8:12 AM by Allan Warren

Four Elements field day photoCover Crop Field Day participants see the results of WSU demonstration plots showcasing various cover crop varieties grown under different fertilization regimes.

Acreage planted to cover crops nationwide continues to grow as the multifaceted benefits of cover crops to soil health and resiliency, crop production and water quality are increasingly recognized. But with so many cover crop options available the decisions of how to incorporate cover crops into a complex farming operation can be overwhelming. Success with cover crops depends on selection and use of species and varieties adapted to the local climate and soils and individual cropping systems.

In the spring of 2018 PCD and WSU staff had the opportunity to visit the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Materials Center (PMC) in Corvallis, Oregon. The center is participating in a 3 year cover crop variety trial, along with PMCs across the country, to evaluate the adaptation and growth potential of common, commercially available cover crop species and varieties. In the fall of 2018 WSU established demonstration plots showcasing a subset of the varieties from the PMC trials at Four Elements farm in Orting, and we had a successful cover crop field day at the farm in April to provide the chance for producers to evaluate the varieties for themselves.

Visit the PCD cover crop page to access the PMC cover crop trial report and stay tuned for additional cover crop field days in late summer! PCD will also be providing a training on May 20th on how to use our no-till seed drill that is available to borrow for cover crop and pasture renovation applications. Visit our Farm Workshops page to register for the training to be held at Bright Ide Acres where you can also see how the farmers at Bright Ide used the drill to overseed their pastures.