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Cover Crops at the Kerr Center

Presentation describing cover cropping practices on the Cannon Horticulture Plots at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in southeastern Oklahoma

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Cover Crops at the Kerr Center

  1. 1. The Kerr Center's horticulture program operates in fields originally converted – organically! – from bermudagrass pasture.
  2. 2. Controlling bermudagrass is a challenge...
  3. 3. ...but repeated cover crops of sorghum- sudangrass shade it out. For details, see “Market Farming with Rotations and Cover Crops.”
  4. 4. Sorghum-sudangrass is one of several cover crops, both warm- and cool-season, that are used in the rotation on the Cannon plots.
  5. 5. Cover crops, both winter and summer, are an important part of organic system design.
  6. 6. The system features a four-field rotation. Each year, half the land is in a “green fallow” of full-season cover crops.
  7. 7. Grain rye is one of the main winter cover crops.
  8. 8. Mowing cover crops (here, rye/vetch) with a sickle-bar mower...
  9. 9. ...leaves long stems intact on the surface as a “green mulch.”
  10. 10. A 2011 organic no-till demonstration used this approach to grow pumpkins and squash Find out how it worked.
  11. 11. The project experimented with a roller- crimper as another way to kill cover crops.
  12. 12. In addition to suppressing weeds, cover crops add fertility. Vetch, a winter cover crop, adds nitrogen to the soil.
  13. 13. Purple hull peas, a warm-season cover crop, fix nitrogen too. (They also make tasty eating.)
  14. 14. When flowering, purple hull peas also provide habitat for beneficial insects. To learn more about using cover crops to support beneficial insects, read this report.