Location: Carneros AVA, Carneros Creek-Frontal San Pablo Bay Estuarie
Irrigation system: Drip
Soil type: Clay Loam
Soil detail: Clay Loam
Special farming challenges: No
- Cropping Systems Information
- Crop: winegrapes
Acres of orchard or vineyard: 190
Other crops: No
Acres of other crops: n/a
Organic management: No
Certifications: Fish Friendly Farming
Certifications notes: n/a
Where using cover crops: 50% of the vineyard
- Grower Experience, Farm Priorities, and Cover Cropping Goals
- When started farming (yr): 2003
Farm priorities: To farm as economically as possible while incorporating carbon farming practices.
Years growing orchard or vineyard crop: 28 years
Years growing cover crops: 18 years
Initial transition to cover cropping: They started trying some cover crop in some parts of the vineyard. At the time, they were experimenting with reduction in tillage so the cover crops were seeded in the till areas while they allowed natural vegetation to grow in the no till areas. Very quickly after that they expanded until achieved the current operation: alternate-row tilling (50%) with winter cover crops seeded in the till sections and natural vegetation growing in the no till sections.
Goals and benefits: Soil improvement, water infiltration/retention, nitrogen supplement, yield enhancement
Benefits description: Nitrogen fixing, yield enhancing, erosion control, soil health/soil organic matter, soil water holding capacity, enable early entry into field
Change in goals over time: "Yes, in more recent years we had a carbon farm plan developed for us and we have been making an effort to increase cover crops in our vineyard to sequester more carbon and improve soil structure"
Reasons: "For us, the incorporation of cover crops was hand in hand with our goals of reducing tillage. The cover crop allowed us to till the soil without worrying about soil erosion"
- Cover Crop Details, Planting and Management Methods
Block described here: Winegrapes
Current cover crops: Legumes, grasses
Species and mixes: Oats, peas and some legumes
Planting method: Drill seed
Planting date (2020): Early October
Was that optimal? "Ideally we would like to seed a day or two before rain is forecasted but this year we haven't gotten enough rain so the cover crop is not growing properly. At this point I would expect a cover crop at least a foot higher and more dense"
Pre-plant soil prep: Till
Planting equipment: Drill seeder
Seeding rate: 25lbs/acre
Seeding depth: 1 inch
Did it germinate well? No, the lack of rainfall did not allow for proper germination
Additional management and advice: n/a
- Cover Crop Termination Methods and Biomass Management
Termination method: Mow, disc
Termination equipment and process: Disc every other row, the remaining rows are only mowed with flail mower
Termination date: April
Was it optimal? No, they would prefer to wait but were worried about water availability and frost risk
Biomass management: 50% mowed, 50% cultivated
- Cover Cropping Challenges and Strategies to Address Them
- Challenges: Risk of frost, establishment difficulties
Challenges description: Risk of frost damage to vines, water availability/difficulties irrigating cover crop
Strategies to address challenges: "There isn't anything I can do differently, if it doesn't rain the cover crop won't do well"
Was the cover crop worth it? Yes, cover crop saves money by reducing cultivation about $100/acre.
Least successful past cover crops: n/a