Cover Cropping and Crop Rotation Strategies to Build Soil Health and Improve Yield and Profitability of Organic Vegetable Production Systems

Jefferson Farm and Garden receives funding from USDA NIFA grant for cover crop research and outreach

Tim Reinbott, director of field operations for the Agricultural Experiment Stations, recently received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the project titled Cover Cropping and Crop Rotation Strategies to Build Soil Health and Improve Yield and Probability of Organic Vegetable Production Systems. As part of the award, Jefferson Farm and Garden, one of University of Missouri’s Agricultural Experiment Stations, received approximately $57,000 to conduct research and outreach at the Center. The grant in total was for $496,815.

This research and outreach project is in collaboration with a team from Lincoln University as well as vegetable growers in Missouri and Kansas. This project is designed to examine the effectiveness of both perennial and annual grasses/legume cover crop mixes. The multi-year nature of the system is expected to reduce management intensity and inputs while enhancing productivity and profitability of vegetable growers.

“Vegetable producers, especially those with limited resources, are constantly looking for ways to reduce cost, increase yield and/or increase value of their farm,” said Reinbott. “We wanted to come up with a plan that was easy and feasible for farmers to implement.”

Research plots will be planted both at Lincoln University in Jefferson City and Jefferson Farm and Garden this fall. On-farm trials will also take place with cooperating farmers. Not only is this research helping soil health and sustainability practices, by planting perennials and annuals it also helps with pollinators.

Jefferson Farm and Garden has plans to host workshops, virtual field days and farm walks to promote their findings.