Project Activities

Cover Crops Evaluated

In summer 2017, a field study was performed in Citra, FL at the University of Florida Plant Science Research and Education Unit. Eight cover crop species were evaluated to determine their capability of suppressing weeds and producing biomass.

Commercially Available Species

  1. Sunn hemp (Tropic Sun)
  2. Sunn hemp (AU Golden)
  3. Iron Clay cowpea
  4. Slenderleaf rattlebox

Non-Commercially Available Species

  1. Sunn hemp (Sanni)
  2. Cowpea (US-1136)
  3. Cowpea (US-1137)
  4. Cowpea (US-1138)


  • Sunn hemp: Tropic Sun and Sanni produced the most biomass among sunn hemp cultivars evaluated. Weed suppression ability was about the same among all of the sunn hemp cultivars

  • Cowpea: US-1138 produced the most biomass and had the greatest weed suppression ability among all of the cowpea cultivars evaluated. The rest of the cowpea cultivars evaluated performed comparably

  • Slenderleaf rattlebox: Low biomass accumulation and low weed suppression compared to the other cover crops tested


Our objective was for farmers and agricultural service providers to evaluate the cover crops tested and identify potential benefits and limitations of our research. Our overall goal is to improve the sustainability of horticultural crop production in Florida.

Research Assessment:

  • we hosted a research assessment at an on-farm trial in 2018
  • participants completed individual forms where each participant made specific observations in the research plots, such as plant vigor, weed suppression, canopy cover, biomass accumulation, and any other positive or negative effects observed without knowing the specific treatments being tested
  • the participants then discussed their observations as a group and identified the strongest and weakest treatments
  • the treatments were finally revealed and participants made recommendations about the research for future experiments

Cover Crop Diversity Research Assessment Report

Field Day:

  • we hosted our field day at an on-farm trial in 2018
  • we gave a brief presentation about the project and research finding to date
  • we distributed a comprehensive list of key advantages, potential problems, and potential barriers to the adoption of our research and each participant scored the degree to which each of those factors either encouraged or discouraged them from using cover crops
  • the participants then explored the research plots on their own and identified which treatments they liked and disliked

Cover Crop Diversity Field Day Report

Collaborator Assessments:

  • we completed collaborator assessments and interviews with two of the three on-farm trial farmers
  • farmers identified positive and negative aspects of each cover crop during the first interview at the beginning of the experiment
  • they completed individual observation forms three times throughout the season to track their observations over time
  • they identified barriers to adoption of each cover crop and provided conditions where each cover crop would be expected to perform best during the final interview at the end of the experiment

Virtual Field Assessment:

  • we created and launched a virtual field assessment (VFA) that allows participants to assess our field research online
  • we want to determine if the VFA increases our study enrollment and allows more Florida farmers to participate in our research
  • we present photos of our field research and ask participants to select their favorite treatments while considering factors such as plant vigor, weed suppression, canopy cover, and biomass accumulation
  • participants then elaborate on their selection and identify barriers to adoption of those cover crops
  • we will use the assessment results to improve our future cover crop research

PARTICIPATE in Virtual Field Assessment about Cover Crops

Journal Publications

Several papers in preparation.


Swisher, M. E., Sattanno, K. and Chase, C. (2017) Growing cover crop use in the Southern Region. Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Annual Conference. 2017 SSAWG CC Diversity Poster

Sattanno, K., Sharma, S., Chase, C., and Swisher, M. E. (2018) Increasing Cover Crop Diversity in Florida. Professional Agricultural Workers’ Annual Conference. 2018 PAWC CC Diversity Poster

Sattanno, K., Donovan, M., Swisher, M. E., Sharma, S., and Chase, C. A. (2020) Improving Cover Crop Research Through Stakeholder Feedback. Poster Presentation at the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Annual Conference. Little Rock, AR. 2020 SSAWG CC Diversity Poster