Columbia, SC—The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (Richland SWCD) has received a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from the USDA-SC-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for $45,000 to conduct agricultural field trials in Richland, Dillon, and Marlboro Counties. In partnership with the University of South Carolina’s Earth Sciences and Resources Institute, the Dillon and Marlboro SWCDs, and five row-crop farmers, the Richland SWCD will monitor soil health indicators and crop yields during three years of multi-species cover cropping and no-till management.
Cover crops are typically grown during fall and winter to increase soil fertility, improve soil health, and reduce erosion between cash crops. Common cover crop species include small grains such as wheat, rye, and oats; legumes including crimson clover and hairy vetch; and brassicas—plants in the mustard family, including radishes, turnips, and rape. Because leguminous species add nitrogen to the soil, planting a cover crop can reduce a farmer’s need to add commercial fertilizer to grow the following season’s cash crop.
No-till management means planting next season’s crop in last season’s stubble without plowing or disking the field. Like cover cropping, this method can also improve soil health, reduce erosion, and increase soil fertility.
The purpose of the grant is to demonstrate how cover-cropping and no-till management can reduce commercial fertilizer inputs while maintaining crop yields. Reduced commercial fertilizer inputs and no-till management will increase profitability and reduce agriculture’s environmental impact. Results of the field trials will be shared with other farmers and researchers at a number of educational events.
This project was one of seven to receive CIG funding statewide. The grants are administered by the NRCS to demonstrate innovative approaches to conservation on private lands and to encourage the adoption of practices addressing resource concerns. For a complete list of CIG awardees and more information about NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.
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Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. In South Carolina, Conservation District boundaries conform to County boundaries. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise planning and use of natural resources for the benefit of the citizens of Richland County.
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District
2020 Hampton Street, Room 3063A
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone (803) 576-2080
Fax (803) 576-2088