Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Organic vegetable production is gaining popularity in Northern Alabama and a growing number of farmers are showing interest in transitioning into organic vegetable production to cater to the local markets. A healthy soil is key to sustainable organic production of vegetables. Therefore, a comparative study of organic and conventional farming system was conducted to determine the effect of cover crop on soil properties and soil health. Soil samples from organic production plots planted to four fall cover crops [rye (Secale cereale L.) hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth, Austrian winter peas (Pisum sativum subsp), and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) and no cover crop conventional plots were analyzed for soil nutrient levels. The total nitrogen and organic carbon concentration in the cover crop organic soils were significantly higher than those in the conventional soils, particularly when the cover crops were compared. There were no significant differences in soil pH, Mn, Ca, P, K, Mg, Cu, and Zn levels between cover crop plots or the production systems. The results reported here are from the first year of a five-year study initiated in Fall 2007.