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Cover Crops
Brabant is embarking on a new course related to these crops.  Let us explain:   

It is our belief, after years of research, trials, projects and programs, that cover cropping is the single most critical input that is both overlooked and misunderstood in today's agriculture. Fully half of the problems growers in the United States face yearly can be eliminated with the use of the PROPER cover crop, green manure or companion crop. We are not advocating the return to "growing" your own fertilizers, (although there are fertilizer benefits realized when using green manure/cover crops), we are saying that many of the problems associated with today's "modern" agriculture can be directly linked to the abandonment of the practice of re-incorporating the organic matter that is harvested or destroyed during the crop season and during fallow periods. Without a doubt, misinformation is the single leading reason that growers have given up this practice. Misinformation such as;
 
"Cover crops wastes money"

Truth? -- Cover crops save money by recycling fertilizers rather then just letting them leach away. Cover crops are instrumental in conserving top soil. They have many other cost-savings as well.
    
"Cover crops will make your plantings late"

Truth? -- Some cover crops require extra growing time in the early spring to produce the growth that will make them more effective. What is not discussed when arguing against cover cropping is that all crops grown on ground following a cover crop mature earlier and with less problems, allowing the grower to plant later and harvest earlier. This is very important to realize. In addition, in areas of minimal rainfall, organic matter acts as a water reserve holding rainfall, irrigation and ground moisture in the soil for longer periods of time.

"Cover crops harbor pests, like fungi and nematodes"

Truth? -- Cover crops are host to some of the pests growers have BUT they also host the organisms that control those pests. Let me say this another way; when you plow down green cover crops, the organisms that degrade the cover crop also help degrade the pests found in and on the soil, including nematodes! The truth is you will actually use LESS chemicals controlling pests when you use cover crops. Don't let anyone, especially anyone with self-serving motives, tell you that they know better, they are lying. As well as helping to control fungus problems, cover crops and companion crops can help IPM programs and be cover for many beneficial insects as well as other symbiotic phototrophic organisms.

There are other aspects to cover crops that we will cover shortly but first let me tell you of Brabant's change of venue.

After working with many operations nationwide we have found that in addition to misinformation another hurdle faced by growers is not being able to find a reliable supply of reasonably priced, quality seed. We will help. Brabant will act as an intermediate between those seeking cover crop seed and seed growers, breeders and suppliers. We will monitor the pricing schedules and help negotiate prices that will be cost effective for the growers and suppliers alike.

Currently available:
 
Blue Lupin Freeze (more cold tolerant)
Win (more growth)    
White Lupin Luminux (strong growth and very cold tolerant)
LaNoble (standard of industry)     
Vetch Hairy and Kahaba (suppresses nematodes)   
Pearl Millet Georgia       
Gama Grass Gamatic      
Rye Big G    


Blue Lupin is used in Southern areas of the U.S. (Florida, S. California, Texas, Georgia, South Alabama, South Mississippi, South Louisiana, Southern New Mexico, Southern Arizona, Coastal and southern areas of South Carolina) and all of Mexico, where the winter temperatures do not normally go below 18o but the varieties we are offering have shown cold tolerance to 10o. White lupin, especially Luminux, can go everywhere north where there is a colder winter than blue lupin can tolerate. Both are excellent cover crops for incorporation and great no-till crops. The advantages and disadvantages of all the types we are offering are:
 
Crop
Advantage
Disadvantage
Blue Lupin Strong growth, good disease suppression   Not winter proof      
White Lupin Winter proof, great disease suppression Not as heavy a grower as blue     
Vetch 
Winter proof, high N accumulator Fast break down in soil, vines tough to  incorporate      
Pearl Millet 
Tremendous growth, high organic matter Does not over winter, better in warm season
 












When you incorporate legumes you get the following benefits; strong disease, insect and nematode suppression (during the degrading of the green matter), strong penetration and fracturing of hardpan soil structure (especially lupin) good residual fertilizer recycling (especially potassium), great nitrogen recycling (in a controlled release form!), good organic matter reserves and beneficial organisms.

When you incorporate grass type cover crops you get the following benefits; very strong organic matter reserves (especially Sudex, millet or Sudan grass) very strong soil erosion control, no or little nematode support and easy incorporation.

Cover crops also help in the conversion of applied fertilizers. Oxide and carbonate forms of nutrients are converted by soil organisms during the degradation of the organic matter. The end result of organic matter degradation, humus, helps bond complex micro nutrients to prevent their leaching and is persistent in the soil environment.

A number of crops are dependent on soil organic matter for optimal yields. Bell peppers, for example, are poor at extracting soil calcium from the carbonate form. The higher the soil organic matter, with available calcium in the soil, the higher the calcium level in the peppers, the lower the incident of blossom end rot, (a calcium deficiency problem). Same for tomatoes and eggplant.

If you are interested in the use of cover crops, contact Brabant and we will help fill in information. We've some good data on crop yield following cover crops for many different crops. If you need seed, e-mail or fax your order to us and someone will contact you in short order.
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