cover crops


Photo credit: Rich Hayes

Floods, Droughts, and Soil: The Movie (or, Why I Destroyed a Small City for Page Views)

, Kendall Science Fellow

Our new report, Turning Soils into Sponges: How Farmers Can Fight Floods and Droughts, is a serious scientific analysis that documents how soil-covering farm practices can help farmers and communities better withstand rainfall variability. It took me the better part of two years to complete. But—lucky you!—we also made a quirky little movie about it that you can watch in less than three minutes. Read more >

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Soil scientist Natalie Lounsbury and farmer Jack Gurley inspect a tillage radish cover crop as part of a project funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program. This plant’s roots penetrate soil deeply, reducing compaction, and increasing water infiltration, making it an excellent cover crop to improve soil structure. Image: USDA-SARE/Edwin Remsberg.

How Healthier Soils Help Farms and Communities Downstream Deal with Floods and Droughts

, Kendall Science Fellow

A scan of recent news reveals the wide-ranging impacts of too much or too little rain: intensifying drought in the Great Plains; the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico ever recorded, driven in large part by a wet spring that flooded parts of the Midwestern Corn Belt; and historic summertime rain in the mid-Atlantic. Climate change promises to bring more of this rainfall variability, with devastating effects on farmers and communities. But a new report we released today contains good news: healthier soil on farms can help combat the impact of floods and droughts.

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Cover Crop Challenges: A Reminder That In Agriculture, Even Small Changes Can Be Hard

, Kendall Science Fellow

Why don’t more farmers plant cover crops? This is a question I am asked all the time when I talk about my research on the topic. Cover crops are not new—their historic use in agriculture includes many ancient civilizations and even our Founding Fathers. Cover crops simply mean growing a plant to “cover” and protect the soil when it would otherwise be bare. Live plant roots can reduce erosion and water pollution, and lead to more productive soil with time. Read more >

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Soils to Reverse Climate Change: “Carbon Farming” and the Untapped Potential in Ecological Approaches

, Kendall Science Fellow

Are there agricultural practices that might offer more potential than the ones commonly discussed in the “carbon farming” conversation? In a companion post, I wrote about what the science tells us about cover cropping and reduced tillage, two practices getting a lot of attention in what I’ve called the “carbon farming” rage. Read more >

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Soils to Reverse Climate Change: What Do We Know about “Carbon Farming” Practices?

, Kendall Science Fellow

“Carbon farming,” in my world as a scientist who studies soils and crop production, seems to be all the rage these days in the media. The idea is to build up carbon in soil while drawing down carbon in the atmosphere through improved soil management. Read more >

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