CLEMSON — Cover crops can be instrumental in no-till production and Clemson specialists are ready to help South Carolina growers take a practical look at using this method for growing vegetables.

Many studies have demonstrated that cover crops will suppress weed seed germination by shielding daylight from the soil surface, reducing soil temperature fluctuations and physically hindering seedling emergence.

The Clemson Integrated Pest Management and Sustainable Agriculture programs announced workshops to teach how to use cover crops in no-till production for growing vegetables.
Image Credit: Jim Melvin / Clemson University

Kelly Flynn, associate coordinator for the Clemson Integrated Pest Management and Sustainable Agriculture programs, said specialists with the Clemson Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program will hold two workshops designed to teach growers about the “nuts and bolts” of cover crops. The workshops will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 19 at the Clemson Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston and May 11 at the Madren Conference Center on Clemson University’s main campus.

“We’ll start in the classroom for an update on our USDA cover crop research project,” Flynn said. “Then we’ll cover topics such as varieties, seeding methods, seeding rates, termination methods and planting vegetables into residue. Our program associate, David Robb, a Clemson graduate student, will talk about lessons learned from his research related to these topics.”

After the classroom presentations, participants will head to the fields at the Coastal REC Research Farm or the Student Organic Farm in Clemson to look at plots and cover crop termination. If time permits, participants also will observe planting vegetables into residue.

In addition to Robb, other speakers for the workshops include Brian Ward, a Coastal REC research scientist, and Shawn Jadrnicek, farm manager for the Clemson Student Organic Farm.

Cost of the training is $15 and includes lunch, as well as a copy of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program’s publication, Managing Cover Crops Profitably. To register, go to http://bit.ly/2o7mWSg. Contact Flynn at kgilker@clemson.edu for more information.

Cover crops are plants used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to farms. They also have been shown to increase crop yields, break through a plow pan, add organic matter to the soil, improve crop diversity on farms and attract pollinators.

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