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Tour: Weighing Cover Cropping Options in Orchards

February 27, 2020 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Cover crops can be an effective way to address a variety of resource concerns that impact both environmental quality and tree health. They are one of the key ways to take advantage of the orchard floor and its potential to capture carbon and nutrients, and reduce their excess loss to air and water. However, the use of cover crops is associated with some management challenges, especially in drought-prone California. The Cal Poly lemon orchard recently began a set of trials using drought tolerant cover crops and cover crop mixes as part of the 2019 CDFA Healthy Soils Program. Over the course of the project, Dr. Charlotte Decock and the project team will be monitoring soil carbon content and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as investigating the costs and tradeoffs associated with cover crop management. During the field day, Dr. Decock, Hilary Philips, and Cal Poly students will use hands-on soil testing methods to demonstrate the links between cover crops and a suite of important soil properties. The Cal Poly team will facilitate a discussion of management strategies and considerations for incorporating cover crops into an orchard system, and the possibility of combining cover crops with amendments such as mycorrhizal fungi or compost. Funding programs for these practices, both from NRCS and CDFA, will also be discussed.

Charlotte Decock, Soil Scientist, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Hilary Phillips, District Conservationist, USDA-NRCS San Luis Obispo
Johnny Rosecrans, Crops Technician and Orchard Manager, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

This field day is a pre-conference special event leading up to the 32nd annual California Small Farm Conference. To learn more about the full conference, taking place Feb 28 and 29, please visit



February 27, 2020
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


San Luis Obispo, CA
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405 United States + Google Map
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