Ioka Farms Orchard Cover Crops
Since Ioka Farms planted cover crops in their hazelnut orchards, they have experienced significantly less soil erosion compared to bare hazelnut orchards in the valley. They also save on fertilizer applications because the cover crop serves as a natural nutrient booster. In the first couple of years since planting the fescue as a cover crop, they were able to harvest it while the hazelnut trees were getting established—though it required some careful maneuvering of large machinery in between the hazelnut rows. This option provided an additional income source for a few seasons before the hazelnuts were ready for their first harvest. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers technical assistance to farmers and ranchers interested in using soil health practices such as cover crops to build resiliency and sustainability into their operations. NRCS photo by Robert Hathorne.