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Cover Crops: Trials at the Ag Center Provide Data for Farmers

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How-to
October 31, 2019

By Yvette DeBow-Salsedo

For the past several years, we have partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County on cover crop trials at the Agricultural Center at Charnews Farm in Southold.

Each year we plant any resting acreage at our Ag Center with different cover crops based on the recommendations from Cornell. These trials allow us to see what cover crops grow well in our area. The outcomes of those trials help us make informed decisions and provide good advice to the farmers in our incubator program – as well as to the local farming community.

Cover cropping is a great practice that can provide many benefits, including improving soil health, preventing soil erosion, nitrogen production, as well as weed suppression.

This year’s trials consisted of 14 different varieties and mixes with a range of planting dates starting in April for spring and summer cover and going into October for fall and winter cover.

Of the summer varieties we tried this year, the two that grew the best were the sunn hemp (pictured above) and the mix of sorghum sudangrass and sunn hemp (pictured below).
Sunn hemp is a legume that fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Due to its dense growth, it helps to suppress weeds and it creates a lot of biomass which helps to increase the organic matter in the soil.

Sorghum Sudangrass is a hybrid warm season grass that grows very tall and dense, which also suppresses weeds and provides a lot of biomass.

Have questions about our cover crop trials? Connect with Land Steward Brendan Minogue at 631.283.319