Water and cover crops

Tim Hammerich

This is Tim Hammerich from the Ag Information Network with your Farm of the Future report.

Cover crops have many benefits for the soil, but how are farmers supposed to implement them when they are struggling to get enough water for their main crop? California Ag Solutions President Silas Rossow said data shows the benefits of infiltration generally outweigh the additional water applied.

Rossow… “Jeff Mitchell at UC Davis has done a really good job of showing, you know, how much water a cover crop uses in an orchard type setting. And from the research they’ve done, and it’s been pretty thorough, it’s really close to net zero when it comes to consumption when managed properly.

Rossow said these cover crops need to be stopped around May before the dry season hits and before evapotranspiration gets really high.

Rossow… “So we don’t really use a lot of water. And what’s interesting is that when we have rain events here in California, it seems that we get less and less frequency of rain events, but more and more intensity. So bigger storms. When you have cover crops in there, that plant really opens up that soil so that almost all of that water is absorbed right into that soil profile. Cover crops therefore play an important role in allowing this soil to absorb water. Um, as long as you don’t let them go too long in that kind of system, that’s not a problem.

This is Silas Rossow, president of California Ag Solutions.

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