Innovative Strategies for Cover Crop Termination: Demonstrating the Full Agronomic and Economic Value of Cover Crops to Accelerate Soil Health Management System Adoption
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced that North Jersey RC&D will be awarded $933,000 through the On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials Soil Health Demonstrations, a new component of the Conservation Innovation Grants authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. These funds will be used to conduct a soil health demonstration that 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, thereby increasing the agronomic and economic value of cover crops to agricultural producers.
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 project will help farmers realize the full benefits of cover crops thereby stimulating additional soil health system adoption.
The 25 farmers selected to participate in the trial will be eligible for incentive payments to fund equipment purchases, fence, participation stipends and risk compensation payments. This is an exciting opportunity for Northern New Jersey corn, soy, and vegetable farms.
Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, as an expansion of the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program, CIG On-Farm Trials stimulate the adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches in partnership with agricultural producers.
CIG On-Farm Trials grants are designed to provide technical and financial assistance to producers to help compensate for any risks associated with implementation of new conservation practices, systems, and approaches.
Of the 73 proposals submitted in this inaugural CIG On-Farm Trials competition, NRCS will award $ $24,314,560 million in 2019 in funding for 16 projects to drive public and private sector innovation in resource conservation.
The North Jersey RC&D (Resource Conservation & Development) is a regional nonprofit organization serving Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties in New Jersey. Through partnerships with municipal, state and federal agencies, as well as many private entities, North Jersey RC&D develops and manages programs and projects that promote conservation of the region’s resources.