Cover crop season has begun: free recorded webinars, demos available – Food Blog

Cover crops, typically planted in early fall, provide many benefits for agriculture and conservation. But many growers have given up on planting them due to technical challenges and additional costs associated with the practice. In partnership with the Contra Costa County Resource Conservation District, two cooperative extension advisers from the University of California worked together to support farmers’ cover crop efforts and reduce costs.

Kamyar Aram, UCCE specialist crop advisor for Against the coast and Alameda counties, and Rob Bennaton, UCCE’s Bay Area Urban Agriculture and Food Systems Advisor, developed the online project content for a free educational series on cover crops, which involves growing non-cash crops to add beneficial biomass to the soils.

Farm Educator Jim Leap Describes Termination Process for Mixed Cover Crop

Farm educator Jim Leap describes the process of stopping mixed cover crops on his home farm.

The series – comprising 10 webinars and five virtual tours of farm sites – features UC agriculture and urban advisers and some of California’s top cover crop experts. It helps growers overcome their hesitation about the practice, which offers benefits such as reduced compaction, improved water retention, and increased organic matter and nutrients in the soil.

“Our site visit videos include a variety of cropping systems, types and scales of operations, and levels of experience with cover crops, so we really capture a variety of perspectives,” Aram said. “Now with the videos online, I hope they will serve as a tool for other agricultural educators, as well as a resource for producers directly. “

When the COVID-19 pandemic canceled plans for workshops and in-person visits, the series’ organizers turned to online webinars, starting in fall 2020, which drew more than 150 attendees. The recorded videos – which cover basic methods, financial aid, orchard and vineyard tips and more – have expanded the series’ potential reach and impact far beyond Contra Costa County.

“Every video, whether it’s a webinar recording or a virtual site visit, emphasizes different aspects, and the titles are designed to help viewers find the resources they need. more likely to benefit, ”Aram said. “There really is something for everyone. “

UCCE Community Education Specialist Julio Contreras Films Seeding Crops

UCCE’s community education specialist Julio Contreras’s films cover planting crops at J&R ranches in Manteca.

In particular, the series organizers recognized the importance of including technical and extension support to urban and semi-urban farmers in East Bay and beyond.

“We wanted to make sure we included practical support from our fellow farmers that was both accessible and relevant to our diverse smallholder and urban farmers,” said Julio Contreras, community education specialist at UCCE. “This meant covering topics such as sowing with spreaders or by diffusion – using small equipment and machines or no-till systems – and even cover cultivation in planting trays. “

Aram and Bennaton also credited their Contra Costa Resource Conservation District partners: Ben Weise, Agriculture Conservation Officer; Derek Emmons, agricultural conservation coordinator; and Chris Lim, executive director.

The project, funded by a block grant for specialty crops from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, was also made possible by generous contributions of time and expertise from presenters and hosts of agricultural site visits. , according to Aram.

“I hope the videos will have a long life online; they really contain a wealth of knowledge, ”he said.

The series can be viewed on

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