Cover Crop Selection Tool Available

  • Jun 10, 2020

Cover crops can provide growers with a number of potential benefits — improved water infiltration, increased soil organic matter, beneficial microbial activity, a reduction in erosion and a habitat that lures in beneficial insects and pollinators. The challenge, however, can be deciding which cover crops will work best in your specific avocado grove and what benefits a particular cover crop can provide.

Shulamit Shroder, Climate Smart Specialist in Kern County, has created a new online tool to help growers select cover crops best suited to their grove’s conditions and needs. The Cover Crop Selection Tool asks users to provide the following information:

  • USDA hardiness zone
  • Estimated amount of water the cover crop will receive
  • Soil salinity and pH
  • Frequency of soil flooding

Users also are asked to rank the importance of various cover crop benefits to their operation including:

  • Improved water filtration/reduction in soil compaction
  • Residue persistence (cover crop functioning as a mulch)
  • Erosion control
  • Weed control
  • Nematode control
  • Attract pollinators
  • Attract beneficial insects
  • Fix nitrogen
  • Reduce nitrate leaching
  • Reduce nutrient contamination by phosphorus and potassium
  • Forage quality

The Cover Crop Selection Tool is a work in progress and Shulamit Shroder welcomes feedback on its functionality and how it can be improved. She can be reached at sashroder@ucanr.edu.

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