Cover Crops to Improve Soil Quality and Health

Cowpea Cover Crop  Yellow Mustard Cover Crop

Fruit and vegetable growers are interested in integrating cover crops as a sustainable crop rotation strategy in their production systems. In Iowa, significant work has been done in integrating cover crops into corn and soybean cropping systems, however, much work is needed to increase cover crop utilization in fruit and vegetable production systems. With growing demand for sustainably grown produce, growers require information on types of cover crops, their growth stages, management techniques, and potential challenges associated with their use. Research focuses on improving long-term sustainability of vegetable cropping systems by building healthy and resilient soils through the use of cover crops. Our lab is studying various winter and summer cover crops that can be integrated in vegetable a production system and understanding their impact on soil chemical and biological properties, crop growth and yield.