Cover Crop Update

What's Happening on the Farm

Cover Crop Update

In a previous post, I talked about my effort to use a cover crop to help with a field with drainage issues.  Well, so far, so good.

In the pictures below you can see the drainage affected area with the salt ring stretching towards the middle of the lane.  This is happening because the irrigation water is not able to move down in the soil and instead moves laterally, carrying salts with it.  The problem is that, since I cannot leach the salts below the root zone, the almond roots are forced to deal with it and almonds are not very salt tolerant.

The triticale that is planted along the almond trees has very vigorous roots and they (theoretically) will reach deep into the soil and, when the plant dies (it’s and annual), its roots will decay and open up the soil, leaving conduits for the water to travel down and carry salts away.  The other thing I am counting on is that the triticale roots will only grow deep in the trouble areas in the field and not compete with the almonds for nutrients.  This is because where the soil is well-drained, the irrigation water from the drip line doesn’t move laterally to the triticale and therefore it struggles for water and doesn’t grow as large.  In the second picture, you can see the cover crop is smaller where the almond trees are bigger so it should not be competing as much for resources with the trees.

This is my first year trying this strategy and it is looking promising so far.