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Cover Crop Termination
Farmers use cover crops to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, and increase biodiversity on their farms. Although cover crops can be partially grazed or used as forage, they are usually terminated before planting production crops. While row crop producers tend to prefer using herbicides to terminate, most vegetable/horticulture crop producers employ tillage as their primary means of termination. Some organic no-till producers use roller-crimpers to kill the cover crop and leave the mulch on the soil surface to conserve water. NCR-SARE has supported various research projects that have explored the advantages and limits of various cover crop termination strategies.
Black carbon produced from wood chips, plant residues, manure or other agricultural waste products is known as biochar. When utilized correctly, biochar can help increase soil carbon, revitalize nutrient impoverished soils, and boost plant productivity. NCR-SARE has funded several research projects that have examined at how biochar interacts with soil and crops in order to maximize its potential benefits.
To keep food safe, farmers, processors, and aggregation and distribution facilities need to stay up-to-date with new rules and regulations on food safety. As farmers and ranchers produce, pack, handle and store our food, NCR-SARE has supported their food safety goals through research and education on a variety of food safety topics, from the development of food safety plans to building good agricultural practices (GAPs) networks.
Permaculture practitioners strive to build sustainable and self-sufficient agricultural ecosystems that are modelled after natural ecosystems. Permaculture can include concepts such as agroforestry, silvopasture, no-till, rainwater harvesting, mulching, managed intensive rotational grazing, and keyline design. NCR-SARE has supported work in permaculture as practitioners explore biodiverse agricultural ecosystems that sustain both themselves and their stewards.