Soil Health: How to Use Cover Crops when Facing Many Production Challenges

Invasive, noxious bindweed and severe wind erosion were just some of the challenges facing Brian Driscoll, farm manager at Farmers Investment Co./Green Valley Pecan Company in San Simon, Arizona.

He learned that he could address these challenges head-on by adopting soil health practices and unlearning some old habits.

Brian applied these solutions by establishing a perennial native cover in his pecan orchard to suppress weeds, reduce wind erosion, increase beneficial insect populations, increase water storage, reduce production costs, and improve crop quality.

This is a soil health success story.

How to Eliminate Weeds with Native Perennials
Filmed in the summer of 2019

Brian discusses how the San Simon Farm was able to eliminate their bindweed problem. He says that the establishment of native perennials on the orchard floor has outcompeted the bindweed without the need for herbicides.

How to Manage Extreme Wind and Increase Beneficial Insects
Filmed in the summer of 2019

Spring winds in Cochise County, location of the Green Valley Pecan Company, are forceful and can cause severe wind erosion. Wind erosion can not only cause soil to leave the land, but also cause damage to the pecan trees.

Brian discusses how the introduction of native vegetative cover has not only stemmed wind erosion, but also reduced soil temperatures and water consumption. Another reward is that the native perennials have attracted many beneficial insects including lacewings, ladybugs, and assassin bugs, further reducing the need to spray for aphids.

How to Increase Infiltration, Reduce Costs & Increase Quality
Filmed in the summer of 2019

Good soil moisture drives pecan crop yield and quality. Brian discusses how the use of native vegetation has increased infiltration rates and reduced the unit cost of production on his pecan operation.

How to Embrace a Mentality Change
Filmed in the summer of 2019

To embrace the principles of soil health, a mentality change needs to take place, sometimes, through the painful process of unlearning old habits. Brian talks about why a shift in mentality is so important when embarking on the process of implementing soil health principles.

Watch the entire  Soil Health “How To” video series