Minnesota cover crops related research and activities
Linda Kinkel is a Microbial Ecologist in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota. Linda, B. Elizabeth Wiggins, Kun Xiao, Jennifer Flor, Carlos Perez and Ruth Dill-Macky are conducting research with the focus on the use of green manures for the management of soilborne plant pathogens in potato, soybean, and alfalfa production systems. Their work has shown that a number of green manure species, including sorghum-sudangrass, buckwheat, and oat, can significantly enhance populations of naturally-occurring antibiotic-producing bacteria in soil. In field trials, these bacterial populations have contributed to significant reductions in potato scab and verticillium wilt on potato, and reductions in phytophthora root rots on soybean and alfalfa.
The team has explored the development of multiple-year management systems, focusing on integration of green manures following short-season potato or sweet corn crops to avoid losing a full year of production. In addition, they have investigated the potential for green manures to reduce the survival of Fusarium pathogens in wheat production systems.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical assistance directly to farmers and landowners to assess and solve concerns with the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on their land. The use of cover crops is one of many conservation practices that they recommend to do. In addition to technical assistance they have cost sharing available for planting a cover crop and for integrating it into a crop rotation, through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Learn about commonly used cover crops in Minnesota here (by Robin Martinek).
Use of cover crops with sugar beets (a field trip report with pictures):
On the same trip Mike Sporcic (National Wind Erosion Specialist) worked on evaluating the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS). Click here to read his report on Spring Sugarbeet Wind Erosion Control.
Carl Rosen is an Extension Soil Scientist with primary responsibilities in nutrient management for horticultural crops. His interest in cover crops for potato production has implications for both disease and nutrient management.Contact information
Control of Soil Borne Diseases in Potato Using Brassica Green Manures
The primary management tool currently used by Minnesota potato growers to control soilborne pathogens is to fumigate with Vapam, a dithiocarbamate. About 25,000 to 30,000 acres are fumigated in the state on an annual basis. Use of Vapam reduces soil microbial diversity, which
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