Eco-Mowing Is Part of Cover Crop Research

Ernie NeffCover Crops, Research

Cover crops can be grown in citrus row middles.

Cover crop research in Southwest Florida will include looking into the effectiveness of eco-mowing, or moving mowed clippings under the tree canopy rather than leaving clippings in row middles.

Sarah Strauss

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) soil microbiologist Sarah Strauss discusses numerous aspects of cover crop and compost research being conducted by her and other UF/IFAS scientists.

“My research as a soil microbiologist focuses on trying to understand interactions between the microbes in the soil and citrus,” Strauss says. She says she would like “to find ways to utilize microbes to help citrus plants grow.”

Strauss says she is “particularly excited” about research into cover crops. She and other scientists have Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) funding for research aimed at getting “quantified data on how cover crops might be impacting citrus.”

The researchers have two cover crop plots in commercial groves in Southwest Florida “looking at mixes of cover crops,” she says. “Some of those mixes include legumes … and then also combining those treatments with this idea of eco-mowing … One of the main reasons we’re looking at this is we’re trying to look at ways to increase the buildup of soil organic matter and soil health.” According to Strauss, cover crops and clippings going under tree canopies are all “methods that might enhance that microbial activity, which could then impact nutrient retention (and) water retention.”

Strauss says it’s a challenge to find cover crops “that work well in South Florida and work well year-round … So we’re attempting all sorts of mixes.”

Another CRDF-funded project Strauss describes is a recently initiated trial researching compost applications for new citrus plantings. She says that work will include research into interactions between compost and different rootstocks.   

This interview with Strauss is part of the December All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large