Recent Publications

Two new articles from our cover crop research on vegetable farms in southeastern Michigan focus on understanding variation in root functional traits, and ecological controls on legume nitrogen fixation, across a soil organic matter gradient:

Bukovsky-Reyes, S., Isaac, M., and J. Blesh. 2019. Effects of intercropping and soil properties on root functional traits of cover crops. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2019.106614

Blesh, J. 2019. Feedbacks between nitrogen fixation and soil organic matter increase ecosystem functions in diversified agroecosystems. Ecological Applications. https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1986

New Funding for Ongoing Brazil Research

Anne Elise visits an experimental plot with farmers (photo credit: Caru Dionisio)

Congratulations to Anne Elise and Jennifer, Co-PIs on a new grant funded by the Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation, and led by a Brazilian NGO collaborator, CEPAGRO (Center for the Study and Promotion of Community Agriculture). The project, “Next Generation Cover Crops: Driving Innovation in Soil Management with Participatory Certification,” will support on-farm cover crop research and capacity-building with farmers transitioning to agroecological production in southern Brazil.

New USDA-funded Research Project

We are excited to tackle a new research project funded by the USDA-AFRI Foundational Program on cover crops and ecosystem services from field to landscape scales. The project links a field experiment, remote sensing, on-farm research, and stakeholder engagement. We will determine how ecosystem services from cover crop mixtures vary with different management legacies and soil conditions, understand the current adoption and outcomes of different cover crops across diverse regions of Michigan, and identify relationships between cover crops and nutrient mass balances on working farms. 

Local High School Student Gains Field and Lab Experience over Summer

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Riley measures buckwheat height in experimental plots

Greenhills School Advanced Research student Riley Noble joined the Blesh Lab for the summer and quickly found himself up to his ears– or at least his knees– in buckwheat! Riley collected data on plant growth rates, leaf nitrogen, and biomass production of buckwheat planted after a winter cover crop trial. Now that he’s done the dirty work, he will take his data back to Greenhills and analyze the numbers in his Advanced Research class this fall. We look forward to hearing about what he finds!

Samara presents at DDCSP research symposium

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Last week Samara Almonte wrapped up her time in the Blesh Lab by presenting a poster titled: “Do cover crop traits vary across monocultures and mixtures? An assessment of belowground biomass and specific leaf area.” Samara is an undergraduate at Western Washington University, and joined the Blesh Lab as a first-year Doris Duke Conservation Scholar. Though she was only with us for 8 short weeks, she jumped right in and learned all about cover crops while helping to collect, process, and analyze samples from an ongoing research trial conducted at the UM Campus Farm. We enjoyed having her as part of the team this summer!