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Williams Ranch Case Study: Comparison of Cover Cropping and Chemical Fallow in Low Precipitation Dryland Cropping Systems of the Inland Pacific Northwest

Chemical fallow is a widely adopted agronomic technique in the low precipitation dryland cropping systems of the Western U.S., including the Inland Pacific Northwest, as a risk management tool. Besides being effective in minimizing erosion, chemical fallow offers little for improving soil health and performance. As an alternative, cover cropping has been considered for its benefits of increasing soil organic matter, providing nitrogen, improving soil tilth and infiltration, etc., but is largely avoided due to risks of soil water use and depletion. This two-year study was conducted to determine the effects of cover cropping on soil water, crop yield, and soil health in these cropping systems.

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