A new soil health case study from the Almond Board of California (ABC) highlights the value and benefits of cover cropping. The study details the cover crop practices implemented by Stanislaus County grower Christine Gemperle. ABC Field Outreach and Education Specialist, Michael Roots said developing the informational resource for industry members helps put certain practices in perspective.
“This is an interview process to go through what they did in their orchard practices before and after implementing the practices, and there’s a calculator that American Farmland Trust created that you can actually put in economic benefits to get the return on investment,” said Roots. “It’s really nice to have a two-page summarized document, especially to hand out to growers that might be interested in this. I know a lot of times they question, ‘what will I get out of it?’ It’s really nice to show some economic data behind it.”
The soil health case study details how Gemperle adopted a cover cropping approach suited to her needs. She seeds every other row right after harvest and irrigates with her flood irrigation system. After sanitation, pruning, and shredding, Gemperle seeds the remaining open rows to be irrigated with winter rain. Roots said that Gemperle has found a way to make the practice functional for her operation, reducing pesticide use while increasing yield.
“She’s seen a huge increase in net income between the decrease in pesticides and increased yield, which we attributed about eight percent increase in yield to cover crop. She’s found a way to make it economic for her, where her increase in cost has really only come out to about $2,000,” Roots noted. “So, from being creative, and doing some trial and error to figure out how it works best for her, she’s been able to experience almost $10,000 in annual net income increase.”
Listen to Roots’ interview below.