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Investigating Cover Crops in Vining Peas

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Investigating the integration of cover cropping into vining pea rotations.

Summary report for trials 2017-2019.

Tom Jelden & Dr. Lea Herold, June 2020. - Processors and Growers Research Organisation in partnership with The Green Pea Company,UK

The United Kingdom is a leading producer of high-quality vining peas. Like any other crop, peas are vulnerable to numerous pests, diseases and environmental stresses. In particular, they suffer from soil-borne root pathogens, extremes of soil moisture and poor soil environments caused by compaction/over-cultivation. These issues can decimate a crop in some circumstances and persistently depress yield for growers in the UK. There are no simple fixes for these problems, thus tools that may assist long term agronomic solutions are required. A healthy soil is well structured, biologically diverse and resilient to environmental extremes and disease pressures. These criteria are sought by the vining pea grower, rendering cover crops a potentially useful agronomic tool. Cover crops can be used to protect and restore soil. Their ability to retain nutrients and improve soil health is well documented, plus they are becoming increasingly relevant in the context of sustainable agricultural practice and environmental protection. The agronomy of vining peas is under constant review and refinement by PGRO in order to sustain long term production in the UK as challenges to the industry mount. PGRO conducts research to provide growers with tools to successfully grow vining peas whilst also reducing negative impacts on the environment. Existing knowledge on cover cropping before vining peas was very limited, therefore GPC and PGRO aimed to close this knowledge gap. This study was launched to investigate the suitability of using cover crops in vining pea rotations. General effects of cover crops on soil health were examined. Resulting impacts on overall crop performance were monitored with particular attention given to the effects on soil-borne pathogens. It is important to note that this is not a general guide or summary of cover cropping, rather a report on a series of trials that specifically focused on the compatibility of cover crops preceding vining peas. This text presents an overview of three years of trials discussing the cover crop options, benefits/drawbacks and conclusions from these studies. It accompanies supplementary technical documents that detail all trial findings (see section 8). This work was sponsored by PGRO, GPC, Birdseye and the EIP-AGRI scheme. Trials were hosted and established by GPC members. Seed was generously provided by Elsoms

The Annual reports for this project can be located as publications on the PGRO web site,  www.pgro.org

 

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