Thanks to an excellent talk by Deni Freis a few years ago, we all know about rain barrels and storm water collection. A far easier way of putting that scarce (nonexistent?) rain water to use — while simultaneously improving the fertility and tilth of your soil and the happiness of the good bugs — is with cover crops. If you already use them, you will be eager to hear Margert Smither-Kopperl’s newest information on them. If you are still in the dark, this Saturday’s meeting will be a real eye opener and a treat.
Specifics for fruit growers will include: Overview of what to consider when planning a cover crop in an orchard. What are your goals and what are the resource concerns that you plan to address? For example, are there problems with soil erosion, weedy species, insect pests, nematodes? Do you need pollinator species? Do you wish to add nitrogen through use of a cover crop? Consider the equipment that you have available and options for managing the cover crop. After this you can decide the most suitable species for your orchard.
Margaret is Manager of the 106-acre USDA-NRCS Lockeford Plant Materials Center (CAPMC), in California’s Central Valley since 2010. The CAPMC supports NRCS in California by testing plant species including cover crops and pollinator species, and is a site to demonstrate soil health. Her agricultural experience started in England with fruit and vegetable production, her BSc.is in botany from the University of London, and her Ph.D. is in Plant Pathology from Michigan State University.
Beyond all these professional and academic accomplishments, she is a captivating speaker and we are so very lucky to get a chance to hear her. (Fellow bee keepers will also be thrilled to know that she has been at the forefront of encouraging farmers to create wildflower hedgerows for the endangered pollinators. )
Chapter members will receive Zoom links in this week’s newsletter. If you are not a member but want to be included, just let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org