Cover crops are one of the most useful tools for managing intensive vegetable growing soils. The integration of cover crops into vegetable production can improve soil health by building soil structure and condition, reducing erosion, adding nitrogen, improving nutrient recycling, and contributing to weed and soil-borne disease control.


The project Optimising cover cropping for the Australian vegetable industry ran from July 2017 to 2020, involving both research and delivery activities. The field research generated new information on the use and agronomy of cover crops to manage soil structure, soil microbial communities, specific beneficial microbes, and soil-borne diseases under Australian conditions.


The new information was combined with practical industry knowledge and international research to deliver, information on cover crops to the vegetable industry. This included 11 farm walks and two Cover Crop Coaching Clinics covering the selection, establishment, management, and termination of cover crops, and the management of soil-borne diseases and weeds.


The project also produced seven articles, 20 factsheets, six guides, four research reports, six webinars, five podcasts, and five videos which are housed on the on the Soil Wealth website cover-crops-and-biofumigation.


These outputs are an important legacy of the project, which will continue to deliver useful information on using cover crops to restore or maintain healthy soil for profitable and sustainable vegetable growing. The knowledge, skills and experienced developed across the three partner organisations, Applied Horticultural Research, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, are an important additional legacy produced by the project to ensure the vegetable industry has the capability to further develop the use of cover crops.