2017 Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Projects

With attached research posters:

LS14-261: Managing Winter Annual Cover Crops for Increased Productivity and Soil Health; Kason Florence. The imminent depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer demands innovative alternatives for row-crop producers in the Southern High Plains. integrating winter cover crops was found to maintain ground cover without depleting the ground water reserves for the subsequent cash crop. The project sought to compare residual effects of cover crops and winter management strategies on the productivity of a subsequent no-till, irrigated summer teff hay crop and evaluate soil C and N dynamics and soil physical properties that impact water infiltration and storage.

LS16-268: Determining the Level of Protection Against Pest in Vegetable Crops Grown Under Row Cover and Insect Net During the Summer in Virginia; Chloe Custis. The purpose of the project is to strengthen the capacity of rural and urban farmers to grow vegetables sustainably by adopting row covers. The young scholar participated in this project and investigated row covers and insect nets as physical barriers against pests in vegetable crops during the summer. The intern identified and monitored pest and beneficial insects in Cole crops, Swiss chard, lettuce, and basil, and evaluated pests populations and the level of crop injury with and without row covers. In addition, the student assisted in evaluating the benefit of using row covers on growth and yield of vegetable crops.

LS16-270: Optimizing Seed Proportions for a Four-Component Leguminous Cover Crop Mixture; Jordan Morales. Cover crops can be an effective means to provide agroecological services such as promoting soil health, suppressing weeds, and enhancing soil organic matter. Recently there has been increasing interest in improving cropping system diversity by using cover crop mixtures. In our previous trials in north-central Florida, evaluations of 4-component mixes containing various proportions of sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea cv. Tropic Sun), slenderleaf rattlebox (C. ochroleuca), hairy indigo (Indigo ferahirsuta), and American jointvetch (Aeschynomene americana) seed resulted in cover crop mixtures that were dominated by sunn hemp. In an effort to ensure greater representation of the other species in the mixture, a smaller stature sunn hemp cultivar, AU Golden, was selected to replace ‘Tropic Sun’ in the 2017 study. The objective of the study was to compare 4-component mixtures with monocultures of the component species to determine whether mixtures are capable of providing equivalent or superior biomass production and weed suppression.

LS16-273: Comparison of the Soil Quality of Forested and Pasture Grazing Lands on Spirit Creek Farm, Georgia; Zani Dembure. The purpose of this study was to compare forest and pasture soils on Spirit Creek Farm located near Augusta, GA. The data provide a baseline for forested soils that will be used for rotational grazing of hogs and pasture soils that are currently managed by intensive rotational grazing of cattle. The pasture has never been tilled for row crops, although one area of the pasture was used as a barrow pit. The objectives were to (1) compare SOC and SON pasture (grazed) and forest (ungrazed) soils and (2) determine the variation of SOC and SON concentrations across soil types.

Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, under sub-award numbers: LS14-261, LS16-268, LS16-270, and LS16-273. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.