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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PRODUCER PROFITABILITY

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: “brassicas and Mustards”

Authors
item Chen, Guihua - VISITING SCHOLAR - USDA
item Clark, Andy - UNIV. OF MARYLAND
item Kremen, Amy - VISITING SCHOLAR - USDA
item Lawley, Yvonne - VISITING SCHOLAR - USDA
item Price, Andrew
item Stocking, Lisa - UNIV. OF MARYLAND
item Weil, Ray - UNIV. OF MARYLAND

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 12, 2007
Publication Date: December 12, 2007
Citation: Chen, G., Clark, A., Kremen, A., Lawley, Y., Price, A.J., Stocking, L., Weil, R. 2007. Brassicas and mustards. In: Clark, A., editor. Managing cover crops profitably. 3rd edition. Handbook Series Book 9. Sustainable Agriculture Network, Beltsville, MD. p. 81-90.

Interpretive Summary: Brassica and mustard cover crops are known for their rapid fall growth, great biomass production and nutrient scavenging ability. Most Brassica species release chemical compounds that may be toxic to soil borne pathogens and pests, such as nematodes, fungi and some weeds. There is a growing interest in their use in row crop production, primarily for nutrient capture, nematode trapping, and biotoxic or biofumigation activity. With a number of different species to consider, you are likely find one or more that can fit your farming system. Don’t expect Brassica to eliminate your pest problems, however. They are a good tool and an excellent rotation crop, but pest management results are inconsistent.

Technical Abstract: Brassica and mustard cover crops are known for their rapid fall growth, great biomass production and nutrient scavenging ability. However, they are attracting renewed interest primarily because of their pest management characteristics. Most Brassica species release chemical compounds that may be toxic to soil borne pathogens and pests, such as nematodes, fungi and some weeds. The mustards usually have higher concentrations of these chemicals. Brassica are increasingly used as winter or rotational cover crops in vegetable and specialty crop production, such as potatoes and tree fruits. There is also growing interest in their use in row crop production, primarily for nutrient capture, nematode trapping, and biotoxic or biofumigation activity. Some Brassica have a large taproot that can break through plow pans better than the fibrous roots of cereal cover crops or the mustards. Those Brassica that winterkill decompose very quickly and leave a seedbed that is mellow and easy to plant in. With a number of different species to consider, you are likely find one or more that can fit your farming system. Don’t expect Brassica to eliminate your pest problems, however. They are a good tool and an excellent rotation crop, but pest management results are inconsistent.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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