March No. 1

Killed Cover Crops for Agroforestry?

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The last issue focused o­n using living mulches. The use of killed cover crops is another way to control vegetative competition. Everyone knows that undesirable weed growth can destroy tree plantings. Mulches have been used for ages to control this unwanted weed growth. While mulches work well for small plantings, for large plantings, the logistics of making it actually happen are daunting. It can take over 10 tons of straw to mulch o­ne acre of plantings (about the same area in a mile of a single tree row). The transport and spreading of this mulch, as well as periodic replacement, is extremely labor intensive. The use of synthetic fiber mulches as a substitute for these organic mulches has potential but the convenience and labor savings is replaced by quite high costs. Killed cover crops have the potential to reduce the labor and cost associated with using mulches in tree plantings.

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