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Clemson experts: Cover cropping can improve soil health, increase bottom line · Clemson News

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Eastern-South Carolina farmers can reduce input costs by including crop rotations, revitalize farm soils and help maintain the state's water supply.

This is the message that Clemson’s experts conveyed to farmers at a seminar on October 19 that aimed to exaggerate the benefits of farming.

After a morning indoor meeting, the participants in the seminar went to Jason Carter's farm to learn more about how the use of this technology can benefit his profits.

Carter has been planting crops for seven years. He saw an increase in the yield of cash crops and a decrease in input costs. Carter grows corn, cotton and soybeans on a farm near Eastover.

Carter said: "I have read about pulses and how much nitrogen can be obtained from growing these crops." "Then I read more books and discovered the benefits that can be achieved by growing other cover crops. Therefore, I planted crops and even if I reduced the amount of lime used, the pH of the soil actually increased."

Carter uses a mixture of clover, radish, rye and purple etch as a cover crop. He uses a planter to sow crops, and then rolls the crops down with a crimping machine.

Carter said: "The rolling process flattens the cover crops and forms a mulch." "The seeds of cash crops are planted in mulch without tillage. The mulch helps increase soil organic matter and fertility."

Plant cover crops between the various stages of cash crop production to help the soil maintain health and high yields. In South Carolina, cover crops are usually grown from October to November to April to May.

Organic matter is one of the most important indicators of soil health. High organic matter means healthy soil. Planting cover crops on land where cash crops grow can increase soil organic matter.

, A soil nutrient management expert based in Clemson's

He said that farmers can grow rye, clover, aquatic plants, peas and radishes as crops, which can be single species or multiple species to obtain multiple benefits. Deciding which crop or mixture of crops to grow depends on the farmer’s goals.

"Cover crops can be planted to improve soil health and provide insect control, weed control and maintain moisture in the soil," Farmaha said. "Before planting crops, farmers must decide what they want to achieve."

Growing a mixture of multiple cover crops is more beneficial than a single species, but will greatly increase the cost of cover crop seeds and increase the cost of the chemicals that terminate them.

In addition to setting goals, farmers should also

 Plant them on their fields before planting cover crops. Samples of the cultivation area should be taken 6 to 8 inches from the top. Samples of pasture or turf should be taken from a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Each soil sample should be taken from approximately the same depth. Approximately 12 soil cores should be randomly selected from each uniform area of ​​the field to make a composite sample, and then sent to the soil testing laboratory for analysis. The advantage of obtaining composite soil samples by homogenization area is that it helps to make fertilizer decisions.

The mulch produced by rolling cover crops can also help improve soil structure, promote water penetration and limit the outbreak of pests and diseases. Cover crops can also be used to suppress weeds.

Clemson Extension weed experts at Edisto REC say that planting cover crops can help reduce herbicide resistance in certain weeds.

Like other crops, it takes time to plant cover crops. Rachel Vann, a soybean expert in the Extension Department of North Carolina State University, said farmers can save time by including crops in their crop rotation plans.

Fann said: "Grow cover crops so that once these crops are terminated, you can grow cash crops." "By doing this, you can optimize the amount of nitrogen released by cover crops to benefit cash crops."

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In order to give growers more choices, another crop may soon be added to the current rye, clover, grapes, peas, radishes and sorghum. This crop is peas. Clemson researcher Julie Carl Ureta (Julie Carl Ureta) said that these peas can be planted in January. He said that the peas produced a "large amount" of biomass before it ended in April.

For more information about collecting soil samples, please visit

. You can drop soil samples at any office in Clemson Cooperative Extension Services County, or mail them directly to the Clemson Agricultural Services Laboratory. To order soil sample mail or get more information, please visit

.

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