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Event teaches benefits of rotational crops

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 8:54 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -

An open house held last week at a test field at the Staples Farm in Presque Isle, has farmers dreaming of future profits. In this County Ag Report, Kathy McCarty has more on the benefits using rotational crops.

Farmers and industry specialists gathered recently, looking for ways to improve soil health, and thus increase yields. Randy Martin, Executive Director of the Central Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District, says one of the most cost-effective ways to do this is through the use of rotational crops.

“It’s a cover crop demonstration, using many different types of cover crops that will affect soil health in different ways, will affect disease pressure, weed pressure in different ways. Not a scientific study, because we’re not really collecting data,” says Randy Martin.

Moir Farms in Caribou is one of many County farms using this method to improve soil quality.

“We’ve done a lot with mustard for a biofumigant, rather than using a chemical like Vapam. And we’ve used a lot of tillage radish for almost - well, it’s gonna be close to 10 years now that we’ve used it. And we’ve had good luck with the mustard. We’re gonna look at it this year to see if we had a cost benefit - if we made anything. So if it helps us - helps our bottom line is the biggest thing,” says Lane Moir, who farms in Caribou with his family.

Repeatedly planting the same crop can deplete soil of nutrients. Planting things like clover, mustard, and other rotational options, improves water retention, soil health, and future crop production.

“The more rotation you plant, the better soil structure you can build, and your yields will be a lot better, and you’ll have less disease pressure come the next following year,” says Moir.

Rotational crops are considered investments in future yields, since they return nutrients to the soil.

“Even though there’s no dollar value from these crops this year, it’s all stuff that you’re gonna till in. The - the payoff is the next year when you put the potatoes,” says Martin.

Martin says rotational crops are a beneficial tool for improving soil health, and serve as an investment in a farm’s future.

Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

Copyright 2020 WAGM. All rights reserved.

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