Cover Crops at the Kerr Center
The bioextensive system in place on the Cannon Horticulture plots keeps half the ground in cover crops at any given time. It’s meant to keep weeds in check and soil healthy – and it works.
Summer cover crops on much of the acreage help suppress weeds and manage soil sustainably.
Three half-acre plots in rotation, with a fourth half-acre plot used for testing equipment and other purposes.
2011 – present:
4-field system includes all four plots part of a single planned rotation.
Growing mulch on-farm
- reduces weed introductions and possible pesticide contamination
- recycles nutrients on-farm
The mulches are grown primarily on the four fields and also in buffer zones.
Mulches grown in-field can be used in place in organic no-till.
The four-field rotation controls a wide range of crop pests and diseases.
- Summer crops = crops planted in late spring and early summer (tomatoes, okra, corn, sweet potatoes, etc.)
- Fall crops = crops requiring hotter planting weather (peanuts, southern peas, etc.) and crops planted late for fall harvest (after July 1: squash, pumpkins, etc.)
Segregating crops into these two groups ensures that timing of tillage and mowing varies over time on every plot. This aids in long-term weed management.
The current plan does not include early spring-planted crops due to difficulties working fields after wet weather, as normal in winter/early spring.
Rotating crop plantings within fields in effect creates an eight-year rotation. This is useful in controlling some especially persistent diseases.