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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Changes in Soil Water Storage in Winter Fallowed and Cover Cropped Soils

Published source details

Mitchell J.P., Peters D.W. & Shennan C. (1999) Changes in Soil Water Storage in Winter Fallowed and Cover Cropped Soils. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 15, 19-31

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Water: Grow cover crops in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1991–1994 in an irrigated tomato field in the San Joaquin Valley, California, USA, found less water in soils with winter cover crops, compared to winter fallows. Water availability: Less water was found in soils with cover crops, compared to fallows, in some comparisons (e.g., about 150 days after planting the cover crops: 4.3–9.9 cm increase in soil water content vs 6.8 mm decrease to 4.0 mm increase in soil water content, 0–210 cm depth; number of significantly different comparisons not clearly reported). Methods: There were four plots (93 x 7 m) for each of three treatments, and there were four control plots (winter fallow). The treatments were Hordeum vulgare barley, Vicia dasycarpa Lana woollypod vetch, or barley and vetch as winter cover crops, planted in October 1991–1993 and incorporated into the soil in March 1992–1994. Soil water content was measured about every two weeks after the cover crops were planted (hydroprobe, six samples/plot, 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, 180, and 210 cm depths).