Partnership to study effects of cover crops at local farmFriday, December 2, 2016
By: Keri Collins Lewis
This winter, a Mississippi farm will serve as a research facility for a multiyear project involving local, state and federal partners.
Producer Mike Graves is growing cover crops, specifically wheat, radish, rye and crimson clover. He worked with staff at the Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center to develop a cover crop seeding mix customized for his crop rotation and planting timelines. Scientists from Mississippi State University, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Tippah County office will study these crops' impact on several factors aimed at improving overall system sustainability.
The researchers will observe field water infiltration, cash crop productivity, and field nutrient and sediment runoff. Subsequent findings will be shared with producers statewide as part of the project, which runs from 2014 to 2019.
"We are now three years into the project, and cover crops are showing promise in reducing negative effects, such as sediment loss, and promoting desired effects, such as increased crop yields," said Beth Baker, an assistant Extension professor at MSU. "This research is more important than ever, as growing populations need more of farmers. Food, feed and fiber demands are growing. Integrating conservation opportunities into working lands can reduce sediment and nutrient contamination linked to environmental degradation."
The MSU Research and Education to Advance Conservation and Habitat Program is coordinating the water quality monitoring effort for the project, which is overseen by the conservation service. The REACH program is a partnership of the MSU Extension Service, the MSU College of Forest Resources, and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
A field day is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 2017 at the study site in Tippah County. Representatives from all partner agencies will attend, along with employees from the Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center.
Editors Note: The Research and Education to Advance Conservation Habitat Program is a partnership of the MSU Extension Service, the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center, and the Mississippi Agricultural and Foresry Experiment Station.