Optimising cover cropping for the Australian vegetable industry (VG16068)
What was it all about?
This investment, which ran from 2017 to 2020, supported Australian vegetable growers to effectively use cover crops to boost soil health and reap productivity benefits. Bringing together a consortium of research partners, it built on existing cover crop trial sites and established new ones to explore the how, why and when to best use cover crops across Australia’s main vegetable growing regions.
Cover crops are one of the most useful tools for managing intensive vegetable growing soils. The integration of cover crops into vegetable production can improve soil health by building soil structure and condition, reducing erosion, adding nitrogen, improving nutrient recycling, and contributing to weed and soil-borne disease control.
The work explored cover crop species, cropping sequences, sowing windows and transition practices under a range of soil types, climates and crops, and delivered clear grower guidelines for using cover cropping that are specific to growing regions.
The field research generated new information on the use and agronomy of cover crops to manage soil structure, soil microbial communities, specific beneficial microbes, and soil-borne diseases under Australian conditions.
The new information was combined with practical industry knowledge and international research to deliver information on cover crops to the vegetable industry. An extensive variety of resources was developed by the project, as well as the delivery of 11 farm walks and two Cover Crop Coaching clinics.
Access the host of resources developed by this project on the Soil Wealth website here, including seven articles, 20 fact sheets, six guides, four research reports, six webinars, five podcasts and five videos.
As an example of the work conducted by this project, watch the video below to see how cover cropping provided benefits to Cowra vegetable grower, Ed Fagan.
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This project was funded through the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund using the vegetable R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government.
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