Member for

5 years 1 month
close up of soil

Farm Information

County: Sonoma
Location: Alexander Valley
Slope: 15-3% slopes
Irrigation system: None. Dry farmer
Soil type: Gravelly loam
Soil detail: Gravelly soil
Special farming challenges: Low soil fertility and steep slopes


  • Cropping Systems Information
  • Crop: winegrapes
    Acres of orchard or vineyard: 35

    Other crops: No
    Acres of other crops: n/a
    Organic management: Yes
    Certifications: Organic
    Certifications notes: n/a
    Where using cover crops: Vineyard

  • Grower Experience, Farm Priorities, and Cover Cropping Goals
  • When started farming (yr): 1970s
    Farm priorities: To farm in a way that enhances and maintains soil fertility.
    Years growing orchard or vineyard crop: ~45 years - since the 1970s
    Years growing cover crops: 36 years
    Initial transition to cover cropping: They seeded everywhere in the vineyard. They were actually one of the first ones to do it in the region.
    Goals and benefits: Nitrogen supplement, yield enhancement, pollinator support, soil improvement, water infiltration/retention
    Benefits description: Nitrogen fixing, yield enhancing, support pollinators, erosion control, soil health/soil organic matter, soil water holding capacity
    Change in goals over time: About the same now. They look at cover crops as means to hold nutrients in the soil.
    Reasons: Not many changes
  • Cover Crop Details, Planting and Management Methods
  • Block described here: Winegrapes
    Current cover crops: Legumes, grasses
    Species and mixes: We use a mix of vetch, bell beans, Australian peas, barley and oats.
    Planting method: Drill seed
    Planting date (2020): Late October
    Was that optimal? Yes, we usually try to get the cover crop seeded after harvest right before the first rains.
    Pre-plant soil prep: Compost application
    Planting equipment: Drill seeder
    Seeding rate: 40 lb/acre
    Seeding depth: 1-2 inches
    Did it germinate well? No. It did not germinate that great and mustards overpower the cover crop but the cover crop has been growing relatively well under the mustard. .
    Additional management and advice: n/a

  • Cover Crop Termination Methods and Biomass Management
  • Termination method: Mow, disc
    Termination equipment and process: Mow with flail mower and disc in
    Termination date: n/a
    Was it optimal? n/a
    Biomass management: Incorporated.

  • Cover Cropping Challenges and Strategies to Address Them
  • Challenges: Risk of frost, establishment difficulties, vertebrate pests
    Challenges description: Risk of frost damage to vines, water availability/difficulties irrigating cover crop
    Strategies to address challenges: Mowing for frost protection.
    Was the cover crop worth it? n/a​​​​​​​
    Least successful past cover crops: n/a