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St. Croix Farmers Discover the Cover at UVI Workshop

USVI Cover Crops & Soil Health Workshop-April 3, 2014, UVI-St. Croix, full house of participants


April 3-4, 2014, University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix Campus

USVI Cover Crops & Soil Health Workshop-April 3, 2014, UVI-AES St. Croix - Flyer & Agenda

Over 30 farmers, residents, University of the Virgin Islands employees & NRCS staff members participated in the evening training session of April's Cover Crops and Soil Health Workshop.

The workshop was sponsored by the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) and Cooperative Extension Service (CES), in partnership with the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and the NRCS St. Croix Field Office.  Three integrated cover crop systems were discussed:

  • Cover crop to vegetable crop rotation systems,
  • Cover crop apiculture systems, and
  • Cover crop livestock systems.

However, the highlight of the workshop was Stuart Weiss's soil stability (slake-test) demonstration comparing the structural stability and water-holding capacity of conventionally-tilled soils to no-till soils (see video below).  It was an eye-opener for everyone present!

What Are Cover Crops?

Cover crops are crops planted during fallow periods in between cash crop rotations to provide a variety of ecosystem services, including soil cover to reduce erosion, a soil amendment to increase soil organic matter and soil fertility, decreasing pest populations, and providing pest suppression in future crop rotations.

Cover crops are sometimes referred to as "green manure." They are used to manage a range of soil macronutrients and micronutrients. Of the various nutrients, the impact that cover crops have on nitrogen management has received the most attention from researchers and farmers, because nitrogen is often the most limiting nutrient in crop production. Cover crops are usually grown for a specific period, and then terminated (mowed, crimped, or plowed under) before reaching full maturity in order to improve soil fertility and quality.

USVI Cover Crops & Soil Health Workshop-April 3 2014, UVI-AES Specialist, Stuart Weiss VI Cover Crops & Soil Health Workshop-April 2014, U of Florida-CES Specialist,  Danielle Treadwell
UVI-AES Agronomy Specialist, Stuart Weiss, introduces & describes the concepts of Soil Health & Cover Crops. University of Florida Extension Specialist, Dr. Danielle Treadwell, speaks to the packed audience about cover crop rotations in vegetable production systems.
VI Cover Crops & Soil Health Workshop-April 2014, UPR-Mayaguez Researcher, Elide Valencia
VIDEO
UVI-AES Agronomy Specialist, Stuart Weiss, demonstrates soil stability comparing conventional-tilled to no-tilled soils.
University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez Researcher, Dr. Elide Valencia (formerly of UVI-AES), describes his research using leguminous cover crops for pest control in sweet corn & plantains. UVI-AES Agronomy Specialist, Stuart Weiss, demonstrates soil stability comparing conventional-tilled to no-tilled soils.

More Information

For more information on the USVI Cover Crops & Soil Health Workshop, contact UVI-AES Agronomy Specialist, Stuart Weiss, at 340-692-4020 or sweiss@live.uvi.edu. For information on cover crops in the Caribbean Area, contact Edwin Más, NRCS Plant Materials Specialist, at 787-831-3416 x.106 or your local field office.