Cover crops and biofumigation

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VG16068 – Optimising cover crops for the Australian vegetable industry

VG16068 – Optimising cover crops for the Australian vegetable industry
27 Jun 2018

The Australian vegetable industry is dependent on healthy soils to maintain profitable and sustainable farms. However, the intensity of vegetable production, market demands, and cost squeezes are placing more pressure on cropping soils underpinning the $3.8 billion vegetable sector.
Today’s growers are rediscovering cover crops as important tools for improving soil structure and health, controlling soilborne disease and weeds, reducing erosion and nutrient loss, and adding nitrogen.

This three-year research project brings cover crops into the 21st century combining the new science, machinery and management practices to make them work on today’s farms.

The project (VG16068), which started in July 2017, and is a partnership between Applied Horticultural Research (AHR), Tasmania Institute for Agriculture (TIA) and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, has been developed under the management of Dr Kelvin Montagu from AHR.

Summary of Resources and Communication: Handy hints and where to find useful information (Phase 1)

Summary of Resources and Communication: Handy hints and where to find useful information (Phase 1)
30 Nov 2017

This guide summarises useful information developed by the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) Phase 1 projects from 2014-2017, and where to find it. These resources are relevant to all major vegetable growing regions in Australia. The resources developed includes fact sheets (51), case studies (12), videos and apps (36), e-newsletters (32 editions), as well as demonstration site information. The main topics covered by these resources include crop management, pest and disease management, and soil, nutrition and compost.

All the resources in this guide can be found on this project website.

TIA soil health video looks at cover cropping with potato grower James Addison

TIA soil health video looks at cover cropping with potato grower James Addison
21 Nov 2018

As part of its levy-funded project navigating the wealth of soil health information available to growers, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture has undertaken a series of interviews with growers from around Australia to provide insights into what they're doing to manage the most valuable resource on their farms: their soil.

In this video, Tasmanian grower James Addison discusses the value of cover cropping in maintaining soil health and increasing productivity in potato production.

Cover crop spotlight on Buckwheat

Cover crop spotlight on Buckwheat
8 Mar 2018

Some of the advantages of buckwheat include rapid growth, strong weed suppression and quick breakdown of residues, allowing it to fit into tight rotations and certain crops like baby leaf.

Watch this video to find out more.

Fusarium wilt management in vegetables with Dr Len Tesoriero (webinar recording)

Fusarium wilt management in vegetables with Dr Len Tesoriero (webinar recording)
7 Dec 2017

Watch this webinar recording to learn about the latest techniques in managing the soilborne disease Fusarium wilt in vegetable crops including solanaceous, legumes, cucurbits and sweet potatoes and to understand the latest ways of managing this disease to keep your plants in production for longer and improve yield and pack out rates.

Three Vital Practice Changes at Rob Hinrichsen’s Kalfresh: A Case Study

Three Vital Practice Changes at Rob Hinrichsen’s Kalfresh: A Case Study
30 Nov 2017

Six years ago, Rob Hinrichsen and his team at Kalfresh decided to focus on four key practices – controlled tra c, cover crops, soil biology and compost – to improve the soil health across their farms. The main drivers were to improve crop yield and quality, as well as the sustainability of the business.

Rob’s emphasis on softer tillage, boosting organic matter with compost and cover crops has helped the soil recover and support a healthy population of beneficial soil organisms. Rob supplements the naturally occurring biology by using specific beneficial organisms to improve the robustness of his farming system.

This case study provides insights into some of the main changes involving controlled traffic, cover crops and compost at the Kalfresh demonstration site in Queensland.

Koo Wee Rup Demonstration Site: Practice Change Case Study

Koo Wee Rup Demonstration Site: Practice Change Case Study
29 Nov 2017

The Schreurs family have been farming on the Koo Wee Rup swamps in Gippsland, Victoria since 1963. After noticing a decline in soil condition, resulting in waterlogging and an increase in weed and disease pressure, the Schreurs partnered with the Soil Wealth and ICP team to trial a range of different cover crops to improve the overall quality and productivity of the farm from 2014 to 2017. Schreurs & Sons farm run by Adam, Ben and Chris produces a variety of different products including celery, leeks and baby leaf spinach.

This case study provides an overview and lessons learnt from trialling different cover crops at the demonstration site in Cora Lynn, Victoria.

Mt Barker Demonstration Site: Practice Change Case Study

Mt Barker Demonstration Site: Practice Change Case Study
28 Nov 2017

Growers, Scott and Kent Samwell, have always been using cover crops to rest the soil between brassica plantings and prevent erosion on the hilly land. They mainly planted rye grass and oats, and have been trying new types over the past 4-5 years, including rye grass mixed with legumes. They continue to be interested in investigating further options. This includes rye grass, faba beans, vetch and triticale, and potentially lucerne and rye corn.

This case study presents insights and lessons from trialling different cover crops and IPM at the Eastbrook Vegetable Farms demonstration site in Mt Barker in South Australia.

Nematodes in vegetable soils - managing the bad and good ones with Dr Sarah Collins (webinar recording)

Nematodes in vegetable soils - managing the bad and good ones with Dr Sarah Collins (webinar recording)
10 Oct 2017

This webinar with Nematode specialist Dr Sarah Collins from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA focused on the pest nematode, outlining the life cycles of the root-knot and root-lesion nematodes and how this can be used to target control measures.

The webinar also covered beneficial free living nematodes and how these can be managed and used as soil health indicators.

Soil Wealth and Crop Health: Vital Components to Potato and Vegetable Crops

Soil Wealth and Crop Health: Vital Components to Potato and Vegetable Crops
15 Aug 2017

Members of the Soil Wealth and ICP team were recently interviewed for the Potatoes Australia magazine. The key message? Many of the soil health and plant protection practices relevant to vegetables, also apply to potatoes.

Click through to read the article.

Soil health toolbox

Soil health toolbox
26 Jul 2017

Read this excellent summary of some common tools for managing soil health in cropping/mixed enterprises in Tasmania. Generally, the more tools you can use, the better!

This poster was prepared by Adrian James, NRM North, with contributions by Bill Cotching, Doris Blaesing, Greg Gibson and John McPhee.

Updates on cover crops and soil borne disease in WA Grower magazine

Updates on cover crops and soil borne disease in WA Grower magazine
25 Jul 2017

There has been some great coverage of our economic case study for cover crops, as well as a demonstration site update on the compost trials from Gingin in Western Australia in the Winter 2017 edition of the WA Grower magazine.

Click through to read the articles.

Cover crops farm walk @Richmond NSW - shed presentation slides

25 Jul 2017

The farm walk on cover crops by Kelvin Montagu was streamed by Good Fruit and Vegetables and can be viewied here.

Cover crops in vegetable production: a grower's perspective

Cover crops in vegetable production: a grower's perspective
6 Jul 2017

Hear from Rob Hinrichsen of Kalfresh in QLD about using cover crops, or 'green carbon', in commercial vegetable production systems.

This video captures Rob's experiences in using different types of cover crops such as tillage raddish and sun hemp to achieve different objectives, some of the benefits of using cover crops such as increased soil carbon and crop resilience, as well as providing advice to those starting out.

What is a cover crop worth? Cover crops in Australian vegetable systems

What is a cover crop worth? Cover crops in Australian vegetable systems
4 Jun 2017

This case study outlines the economic considerations when using cover crops in vegetable production systems. It is based on lessons learned from several Soil Wealth – ICP demonstration sites, during the period 2014 to 2016.

One of the most important considerations is being clear about the purpose of using cover crops in the farm system system as it influences the way you may judge costs and benefits and the timing of these.

The overall benefits will depend on each situation. However, to figure out what works for you on your farm and a specific purpose, talk to others who have used cover crops for a similar purpose / situation; trial cover crops or include a test strip if possible.

Soil Wealth and ICP Achievements Phase 1

Soil Wealth and ICP Achievements Phase 1
31 May 2017

The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection projects provide R&D extension services, products and communication on improved soil management and plant health to the Australian vegetable industry.

Over the past 3-years, RMCG and AHR have delivered the projects for Horticulture Innovation Australia. Phase 1 of the projects have now been completed. So, what’s been achieved?

Managing cover crop residues in vegetable production

Managing cover crop residues in vegetable production
15 May 2017

This fact sheet outlines key factors and the management options for the successful transition from cover crop to cash crop in vegetable production systems.

Biofumigation cover crops in vegetable production with Julie Finnigan (webinar recording)

Biofumigation cover crops in vegetable production with Julie Finnigan (webinar recording)
31 Jan 2017

A webinar on biofumigation cover crops presented by Julie Finnigan and Dr Kelvin Montagu as part of the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection projects.

Soil Wealth: AORA Field Day at the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Demonstration Farm

Soil Wealth: AORA Field Day at the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Demonstration Farm
18 Nov 2016

Did someone say popcorn? This is just one of the crops involved in the Soil Wealth extension project at the Cowra site. Along with chickpeas at Kalbar, eggplant in Darwin, carrots in Gingin, coloured lettuce in Gippsland, and 8-kilo cabbages in Bathurst – these various projects look at tillage, soil structure, cover crops, and the resulting healthy soil using compost.

Rediscovering cover crops with Kelvin Montagu (webinar recording)

Rediscovering cover crops with Kelvin Montagu (webinar recording)
10 Nov 2016

Cover crops are being rediscovered by vegetable growers as practical ways of improving soil productivity and health. While cover cropping is a simple concept, it can be complex to implement in todays intensive production systems.

In this webinar Dr Kelvin Montagu from the Soil Wealth - ICP team, talks about the use of cover crops in vegetable production and the practical issues which need to be considered.

USDA Cover Crops Chart

USDA Cover Crops Chart
11 Oct 2016

The Cover Crop Chart (v. 2.1) is designed to assist producers with decisions on the use of cover crops in crop and forage production systems. The information is based on USA conditions and care is required to adapt the information to Australian conditions.

The information provides a good summary of the different cover crop options for warm and cool seasons.

Summer cover crops

Summer cover crops
1 Sep 2016

Match your main soil management aim to the southern Australian summer cover crops.

Kalfresh Farm Walk and demonstration site update: June 2016

Kalfresh Farm Walk and demonstration site update: June 2016
7 Jul 2016

The Soil Wealth and ICP projects have managed a demonstration site at Kalfresh since early 2015.

The results from the demonstration site confirm that by following four principles in managing vegetable cropping soils, both soil condition and financial returns can be maximised. It’s a true win:win situation.

Winter cover crops

Winter cover crops
1 Jul 2016

Match your main soil management aim to the southern Australian winter cover crops.

Lettuce grower David East use of biofumigant mustard

Lettuce grower David East use of biofumigant mustard
3 May 2016

David East is a lettuce grower with Bewray Pty Ltd east of Manjimup. Since 2011, David has been growing the biofumigant mustard Caliente during winter between his summer lettuce crops.

Carbon storage in vegetable soils

Carbon storage in vegetable soils
2 May 2016

Maintaining or increasing soil carbon makes good sense – for the environment and for soil productivity. While climate scientists talk about soil carbon, you will know it better as soil organic matter. And the productivity benefits of soil organic matter are legendary:

• Providing a slow release supply of nutrients
• Improving cation exchange capacity and nutrient- holding ability
• Buffering against soil acidity
• Improving soil structure and aggregate stability
• Improving soil water holding capacity
• Reducing erosion risk.

This fact sheet summaries the opportunities and management options for mitigating or sequestering soil carbon in vegetable soils.

Erosion: how to protect your soil

Erosion: how to protect your soil
4 Apr 2016

A healthy topsoil is a great asset to have, as this layer of soil contains the highest concentration of organic matter, micro-organisms, nutrients and biological activity. Lost topsoil can’t be replaced in a human’s lifespan. Therefore erosion, probably the biggest culprit in the loss of topsoil, should be effectively managed.

This fact sheet provides essential information on managing soil erosion, including reducing the impact of wind and water. The easy to read publication also guides decision-making on managing your irrigation system, controlling run-off water, covering exposed soil areas, improving soil structure and increasing cohesion between soil particles.

How to control Pythium in vegetable crops with Dr Len Tesoriero (webinar recording)

How to control Pythium in vegetable crops with Dr Len Tesoriero (webinar recording)
31 Mar 2016

Vegetable pathologist, Dr Len Tesoriero and AHRs Dr Kelvin Montagu, recently presented a highly successful webinar on how to manage the soil borne disease Pythium in vegetable crops.

The webinar was recorded, and is now available as a YouTube video. You can click on the link below to watch the full Webinar. You can also download the presentation and follow the link to an ICP factsheet on how to manage soil borne disease in vegetable crops.

Building soil wealth in the south-west of WA

Building soil wealth in the south-west of WA
16 Mar 2016

On September 17th a field day on biofumigation at David and Lee East’s Bewray farm at Manjimup, WA attracted over 45 growers and industry specialists.

Biofumigation crop management for maximum impact

Biofumigation crop management for maximum impact
2 Mar 2016

Dale Gies outlines the importance of correct establishment and water and nutrient requirements of biofumigant crops.

Soil diseases in vegetables under attack in new project

Soil diseases in vegetables under attack in new project
8 Feb 2016

Soil-borne diseases are a major threat to vegetable production and now a new project is tackling the problem.

Southern Fields Vegetable Farm Demonstration Site - Experiences from leading growers

Southern Fields Vegetable Farm Demonstration Site - Experiences from leading growers
1 Feb 2016

Hear from Tasmanian lettuce grower Colin Houston about the exciting demonstrations being run on his new farm aimed at improving profitability and sustainability.

Soilborne Disease Master Class for the Vegetable Industry - Experiences from leading growers

Soilborne Disease Master Class for the Vegetable Industry - Experiences from leading growers
31 Jan 2016

Vegetable growers and advisors discuss how attending a master class has changed the way they manage soilborne diseases and influenced their business.

Managing Plant Health and Soils in Vegetables - Experiences from leading growers

Managing Plant Health and Soils in Vegetables - Experiences from leading growers
30 Jan 2016

Vegetable growers and advisors talk about how implementing integrated crop protection and new soil management practices has changed their business.

The past, present, and future of the cover crop industry

The past, present, and future of the cover crop industry
18 Dec 2015

Steve Groff, farmer and the founder of Cover Crop Solutions, Pennsylvania, USA provides an excellent overview of cover cropping in the USA.

Development of biofumigant cover crops and their potential benefits

Development of biofumigant cover crops and their potential benefits
15 Dec 2015

Part 2 of 5 of a Green Crops and Biofumigation seminar presented by Dale Gies from High Performance Seeds Inc, Washington, USA. Seminar hosted by Serve-Ag Tasmania, February 2015 and broadcast by Soil Wealth.

Weed management in vegetables

Weed management in vegetables
15 Dec 2015

Weeds increase the cost of growing vegetables, reduce crop yield and quality, and impact farm management decisions, such as timing of harvest and choice of herbicide options.

Bulmer Farm Walk May 2015

Bulmer Farm Walk May 2015
8 Dec 2015

Missed the Bulmer Farm Walk on 21 May 2015? Catch up on reduced tillage options in vegetables in this video from Jeanette Servers of Good Fruit & Vegetable.

Sweetpotato whole of crop integrated pest management strategies

Sweetpotato whole of crop integrated pest management strategies
1 Dec 2015

This video documentary showcases grower practices used to better manage sweetpotato pests in their Australian sweetpotato production systems. It was produced as a result of project VG09052 'Integration of crop and soil insect management in sweetpotato', which was undertaken by the Australian Sweetpotato Growers Association (ASPG inc).

Introduction to green crops and biofumigation

Introduction to green crops and biofumigation
30 Nov 2015

Part 1 of 5 of a Green Crops and Biofumigation seminar presented by Dale Gies from High Performance Seeds Inc, Washington, USA. Seminar hosted by Serve-Ag Tasmania, February 2015 and broadcast by Soil Wealth.

Building Soils for Better Crops

Building Soils for Better Crops
26 Nov 2015

This book is a practical guide to ecological soil management that provides background information as well as details of soil-improving practices. It is meant to give the reader an appreciation of the importance of soil health and to suggest ecologically sound practices that help to develop and maintain healthy soils.

Biofumigation media from the 5th International Symposium of Biofumigation

Biofumigation media from the 5th International Symposium of Biofumigation
8 Oct 2015

This webpage contains videos, documents and photos from the 5th International Symposium of Biofumigation held in September 2014.

Cover Crop Solutions Videos

Cover Crop Solutions Videos
8 Oct 2015

This in depth educational video examines the different species of cover crops on the market today. Learn the characteristics and benefits of planting legumes, grasses, cereals, and more. If you're new to cover crops, this is the video you must see.

Advanced Biological Farming

Advanced Biological Farming
8 Oct 2015

This book by Gary Zimmer, a farmer in the United States, provides support for farmers who would like to reduce chemical inputs and use natural processes within their farming systems.

Sustainable Management of Soil-borne Plant Diseases

Sustainable Management of Soil-borne Plant Diseases
6 Oct 2015

This publication from ATTRA (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service) in the United States provides information on improving disease suppression within soil.

Diverse Cover Crop Mixes for Good Soil Health

Diverse Cover Crop Mixes for Good Soil Health
6 Oct 2015

This article discusses the benefits and challenges of incorporating mixed cover crops into a farming system.

Managing Cover Crops Profitably

Managing Cover Crops Profitably
6 Oct 2015

This handbook published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network in the United States provides helpful maps and charts, detailed narratives about individual cover crop species, chapters about specific aspects of cover cropping and extensive appendices that
will lead you to even more information about managing cover crops.

Biofumigation

Biofumigation
18 Aug 2015

Biofumigation is the use of specialised cover crops, which are grown, mulched and incorporated into the soil prior to cropping. High biomass, especially roots, can provide the traditional benefits of green manure crops, and if done right, naturally occurring compounds from the biofumigant plants can suppress soil-borne pests, diseases and weeds.

Alternatives to Metham Sodium

Alternatives to Metham Sodium
22 Jun 2015

Sole reliance on fumigants like Metham Sodium often changes soil conditions and reduces inherent disease suppressive soil properties, reinforcing continued reliance on fumigation to deal with soilborne diseases, pests and weeds.

Managing Sclerotinia Diseases in Vegetables

Managing Sclerotinia Diseases in Vegetables
25 May 2015

New management strategies for lettuce drop and white mould of beans.

Reduced till in vegetable production —WHY?

Reduced till in vegetable production —WHY?
11 May 2015

A reduced till system on this Cowra vegetable farm delivered soil, cost and crop benefits.

Reduced Till in Vegetable Production - HOW?

Reduced Till in Vegetable Production - HOW?
11 May 2015

NSW farmers, Ed and James Fagan explain how they developed a reduced tillage vegetable farming operation in Cowra, NSW.

Reduced till in vegetable production

Reduced till in vegetable production
11 May 2015

Reduced till is a system change that relies on keeping the soil in a healthy condition through the use of permanent beds, controlled traffic, cover cropping and crop rotations rather than frequent cultivation.