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USDA funds soil health, cover crop project

Rye and vetch cover crop.Thomas Bjorkman, vegetable- and cover-crop expert in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, is heading up a project to help Northeast vegetable growers use cover crops to improve soil health. Björkman will train extension staff in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont to interpret Cornell Soil Health Test reports and to fill prescriptions from that test with the right cover crop.

Extension staff will work with 43 growers to choose cover crops to solve their specific soil health problems and to test the effectiveness of the new practice. By identifying the cover crops best suited to specific management goals, growers will get more value from them and be able to improve both their environmental impact and their financial bottom line.

This project builds on the success of the Cornell Soil Health Team to deploy the tools they developed, and to expand the management recommendations that result from the report. The management recommendations are available at the Cornell Cover Crop website. The $98,158-project is funded by the Northeast region of the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE). For more information, contact Björkman: tnb1@cornell.edu.

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