Growing Green & Best Management Practices

SYRCL’s Growing Green for the Yuba program aims to inspire the community to practice sustainable and ecologically sound cannabis cultivation in the Yuba River watershed. One way we achieve this is through education on Best Management Practices (BMPs) 

As the cultivation season wraps up and farmers begin to shift their efforts from harvest and procurement toward preparing their land for winter, we want to highlight a seasonally appropriate BMP known as Cover Cropping.

Cover crops are usually leguminous crops, which are seeded in the fall to protect and replenish soils during the wet winter months. Leguminous crops, or legumes, are plant species that have root nodules with symbiotic bacteria capable of fixing nitrogen; common examples include alfalfa, clover, and peas. By planting cover crops between harvest and replanting, farmers can replenish nitrogen in their soil while also retaining organic carbon, other nutrients (such as phosphorus and potassium), and trace minerals.  

alfalfa
Alfalfa
Clover

Without the use of cover crops, bare soil is vulnerable to erosion during the wet winter season and nutrients within the soil can leach out. Thus, using cover crops can improve water quality by preventing erosion and leaching that carries sediment and nutrients into local streams. 

Planting cover crops can also contribute to healthy living soil by supporting a diverse microbiome in the rhizosphere, or root zone. Having a healthy rhizosphere can optimize nutrient uptake and improve nutrient use efficiency during the growing season. Letting cover crops continue to grow with cannabis plants during the growing season as companion plants can also be beneficial, as they increase water retention and reduce water use during dry months. 

Overall, cover cropping is a win-win. Now’s the time! Get your cover crop seeds, take advantage of this lovely fall weather, and improve your soils health and vitality while contributing to a healthy watershed.

What's in store?

SYRCL has exciting things on the horizon for the Growing Green program:

  • We will participate in the upcoming revision of the Nevada County Cannabis Ordinance, likely to be issued in early 2022.
  • We are working to find ways to collect more data, which is why we are currently looking for cultivation partners who use BMPs, so we can determine how BMPs may minimize cannabis impacts on watershed health.

If you are interested in collaborating, please contact Alecia Weisman, SYRCL’s River Science Program Manager, at alecia@yubariver.org.

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