A farming systems trial has been established at Houston's Farm, Cambridge in southern Tasmania to examine how cover crops can be integrated into baby leaf production systems and what effect this has on soil condition and soil borne disease incidence and subsequent yield and quality of lettuce, rocket and baby leaf spinach.
The 5.6 ha trial will be run for 2 years with the following four treatments replicated 3 times:
- Control – conventional cropping, approximately 2.5 baby leaf crops per year
- Summer cover crop – winter baby leaf production
- Winter cover crop – summer baby leaf production
- Perennial lucerne for 18 months – then cropping.
The site was sown from 20-22 December 2016 as follows:
- The summer cover crop is a mix of sunn hemp, sorghum and sudan grass mix
- Lettuce was sown in the cropping treatments
- The lucerne cover crop will be sown in autumn 2017, so this will allow the opportunity to trial several other cover crop species over the summer before sowing to lucerne, including:
- Mung bean
- Tillage radish
- Mix millet, mung bean and tillage radish
The trial is supported by Houston’s Farm and project VG15010 (A multi-faceted approach to soilborne disease management) is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the vegetable industry levy and funds from the Australian Government.