304 North Street Houlton Maine 04730

Conservation Innovation Grant 2015-2017

5 25 17 field of peas 600x800

"Building Soil Health with Innovative Potato Cropping Systems"

The field in the above photo had a 9-species cover crop mix planted on it in 2016. It was never mowed and was plowed in the late fall. Mid-May 2017 showed the vigor of field peas that germinated with at least a foot of growth. Field was harrowed and peas will hopefully add a boost to the incoming potato crop. As with year 1, this field has been planted with potatoes and a 3 legume mixture in-row to fix nitrogen. The photo below shows the planter with Gandy box containing the legume seeds that flow through four different tubes into potato row.

2017 Planter Gandy 600x800

We are looking forward to documenting the health and growth of the potato crop and ultimately harvest following a year of a multi-species cover crop. 

The SASWCD is working with two other farms on the CIG project and we are in the middle of planning a FIELD DAY that will be held Wednesday, August 16 at Donald Fitzpatrick's farm in Houlton. Biotic farmer Brendon Rockey of Rockey Farms in Colorado will be the guest speaker for the day, along with CIG project advisor Mark Fulford and Woods End Lab's Will Brinton. Check back for more details as we get closer to the date.

If you are interested in learning more about SASWCD's CIG project, check out references below:

  • In 2016 the SASWCD held a "Potato Production as Part of an Ecological System" class with Michigan crop consultant RJRant. RJ was a wealth of information regarding soil building through rotations and multi-species mixes. Some of the information may surprise you - click HERE to read an overview of class discussion.
  • For the 9 to 14 multi-species cover crop mixes that we have been using for this project, we have been working with Keith Berns at Green Cover Seed in Nebraska. They have a cover crop "Smartmix" calculator that helps to determine what species mix is right for you.

Outcomes of the SASWCD CIG project "is based upon work supported by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, under number 69-1218-14-6.