Demonstrating the Full Agronomic and Economic Value of Cover Crops to Accelerate Soil
Health Management System Adoption
North Jersey RC&D was awarded $933,970 through a National NRCS Conservation and Innovation Grant (CIG) On-Farm Trials Grant to examine cover crop termination strategies in Northern New Jersey.
North Jersey RC&D (NJRCD) proposes a soil health demonstration that compares typical
northeastern US cover crop termination practice (termination in early to mid- spring, using herbicide, weeks before planting) against innovative methods of delaying cover crop termination and cash crop planting. These innovative methods include planting into (1) a green living cover crop, (2) a mature cover crop terminated using a roller crimper and (3) a cover crop intensively grazed by livestock. These strategies maximize soil cover, biodiversity, and the presence of living roots in annual crop systems, ultimately increasing the agronomic and economic value of cover crop to agricultural producers.
Using a paired study design, three treatments (aforementioned cover crop termination methods) will be compared against a control (existing termination practices) on 25 farms (4000 acres total of northern New Jersey cropland). Using a combination of soil samples and field assessments, farm data, and farmer interviews, NJRCD and partners will compare environmental, economic, and social impacts of treatments. By identifying, documenting, and evaluating regionally successful cover crop termination approaches, this proposal will help farmers realize the full benefits of cover crops thereby stimulating additional soil health system adoption.