After learning more about the basics of Orchard and Fruit systems within the Pacific Northwest, you are now ready to conduct some outside research about a particular cropping system. For this assignment, I would like you to review the case study, diagnose the problem(s), and provide management recommendations for Chuck and Christine Browinski. All the information you will need to get started with this assessment is provided in the Assignment #5 – Instructions, Case Study, and Grading Rubric document (pdf version).
Be sure to review the grading rubric and fulfill all of the assignment requirements!
Additionally, please review your graded first case study (Assignment #2) as my comments and suggestions will be very helpful when working on this assignment.
· John needs to make sure that his 350 acres of land is producing maximum yield possible is important as the farm is the primary source of income for John’s family that includes himself, his wife, their four children (all at their primary education level). Moreover, his operations are very small in size, as compared to the majority of farms located in the area.
· The struggle with the soil reaching its acceptable moisture content has been a concern as John’s land is not irrigated since his farm solely relies on the natural precipitation system. So in order to reap the maximum yield out of his farm, John wants to raise a cover crop that can manage the soil well.
· Overall improving soil health is one of the primary concerns of John as he realizes that the soil he has today will be the soil present for his kids when they take over the farm in the future.
· Soil erosion is also one of the problems that John has been managing and having concerns over since this matter has been a top issue in his area as his peer shared his experience of his topsoil washing over the highway following a severe rainstorm.
· The current crop (perennial ryegrass) has been gradually producing less yield the past couple of years simply due to stand age which John thinks now has to be rotated as it will keep reducing the produced crop by each passing year.
· John wants that the cover crop increases soil health, suppress weeds and prevent winter erosion so that it has a quick turnover and he is in a position to sign a contract for a new grass variety, RedHead creeping red fescue, which will need to be planted in this field.
Factors Determining an Appropriate Management Protocol:
· Increasing the yields of subsequent crops
· Reducing nematode populations
· Improving overall soil health
· Suppressing weeds
· Preventing soil erosion
· Ensure long-term sustainability of his farm
Q2 1a) Goals for addressing the environmental and economic sustainability of Yoder’s field location:
· A successful crop rotation or selection of a suitable cover crop for Yoder’s field
· Adequate soil moisture to the field
· Improve and manage the soil fertility so the soil is prepared for a better crop
· Water Management is done efficiently so the field can reap crops from natural precipitation or through usual rainfall in the area
1b) Goals for addressing the economic sustainability of the entire Yoder’s family farm operation:
· Increased yield of the subsequent crop planted in the field
· Improved overall soil health
· Reduced nematode populations
2) A plant that is primarily used for the purpose of nurturing your farm by way of reducing soil erosion, improving soil health, helping control pests and diseases, increasing biodiversity into your field and enhancing the availability of water is called a cover crop (Nationwide).
3) The cover crop and subsequent field management recommendations will serve to improve the sustainability of Yoder’s farm much efficiently in the following ways:
· Economically: Cover crops will eventually improve the overall soil health which then can be used to reap a good amount of subsequent crop without any worries relating to the decreased levels of harvest every year.
· Soil Fertility: Cover crops will tend to enhance the soil fertility, where it will fill the soil with ample amount of nutrient that will be sufficient for the subsequent crop to feed itself with. Moreover, increased soil fertility means that the land soil can be in good form for many years ahead whilst becoming beneficial for the next generation.
· Water Management: Cover crops will start storing water as it will increase its water holding and infiltration capacity. This way the soil will also adapt a moderate temperature and subsequently result in reduced rate of evaporation. So for a farm like Yoder’s, where the field will not be irrigated, a stabilized yield is ensured through moisture availability in soil even in an increasingly erratic weather (Nationwide).
Q3 1) Recommended cover crops are as follows:
· Crimson Clover is an ideal cover crop that grows in the fall and winter and matures rapidly than most other legumes. The characteristic of this cover crop perfectly befits the requirements of Yoder’s farm where a winter crop is required and for the purpose of maintaining good health of soil. Moreover, since the soil of Yoder’s farm is expected to have a PH lower than 7 (acidic in nature) therefore Crimson Clover will be suitable for the field as this cover crop tends to grow well in low-PH levels and well drained soils.
· Crown vetch is another recommended cover crop as it tends to suit only those soils that are well drained, however, it can be grown even in conditions where soil fertility is low. This cover crop has proved to provide an everlasting groundcover and roadbank stabilization. The only drawback of this cover crop is that it grows at a slow rate, so it is rather recommended for perennial cover.
· Winter rye is a grain rye that is quite simple to establish and is very winter-hardy. Its ability to germinate quickly and during winter season is why it is recommended to John. Moreover, this cover crop tends to suppress the germination of weed seeds so it satisfies John’s goal of suppression of weeds in his field.
2) Cover crops that should be avoided are as follows:
· Cowpeas is one of those cover crops that do not do well in cold climates, hence those should be avoided. The crop does well in droughty conditions and not in well drained soils is why John should not opt for this cover crop.
· Alfalfa is not a good option for Yoder’s farm as well as it suitable for those soils that are near neutral in PH, and not carry low-PH level. Moreover, it does not grow rapidly, rather it is grown in a rotation of number of years.
· Sudan grass is a crop that should be avoided as it is a summer annual, and even though it tends to suppress weeds and can be fast grown, it cannot be planted since it is not best for the cold climates.
3) Detailed recommendation of cover crop management
The very first thing that a farmer should keep in mind is the scheduling of the cover crop and when to plant it. cover crop seeds can be drilled or broadcasted but the timing of the crop is quite critical in terms of not delaying the planting process nor too early. Now, the second most important factor is to fertilize and irrigate or manage a cover crop efficiently in order to gain maximum growth and benefit out of it. It is important to know that any fertilizer or nutrient added to the soil for the purpose of growing a cover crop shall remain in the soil as cover crops residues decompose. The last stage is the termination of a cover crop where they are terminated as soon as the condition gets ideal (i.e. about 50% of blooming). Termination should take place as soon as it is time to recharge soil water and breakdown the residue of cover crop. This is done when there are enough nutrients accumulated for the subsequent crop to be planted in the soil (Nationwide).
References Nationwide, SARE. “Types of Cover Crops.” SARE, www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Building-Soils-for-Better-Crops-3rd-Edition/Text-Version/Cover-Crops/Types-of-Cover-Crops. Nationwide, SARE. “Cover Crop Topic Room / Learning Center / SARE.” SARE, https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Topic-Rooms/Cover-Crops. Duyck, Garrett, et al. Living on The Land: A Guide to Growing Cover Crops. catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec1653.pdf.