Foster said the research will be relevant to a large swatch of South Texas—a line from Victoria to San Antonio to Yoakum.

“Our research project will start with one acre of legumes at each of our two sites in Beeville and Uvalde, then we’ll scale that up after a crop rotation cycle when we find a few legumes that will work,” she said.

Foster said the changing economic times are making a strip tillage with legume cover crop system more attractive to growers.

“When fertilizer and fuels were relatively cheap and moisture was abundant, it was easy to continue with conventional tillage, or no till,” she said. “But with those prices rising so dramatically, so is interest in this new system.

Strip-till equipment is available and there are now modern legume cultivars to choose from.”

The advantages of switching are just too enticing to ignore, Foster said.

“Lots of problems, both environmental and financial are solved,” she said.

“It reduces erosion, soil moisture loss and nitrogen loss. It improves organic matter in soil which means the soil is holding carbon. That reduces carbon emissions, greenhouse gasses and global warming. Plus, hay sales and grazing can increase incomes. That’s a lot of wins.”

Yet another plus could be that legumes break up insect pest cycles, Foster said.

“Dr. Mike Brewer, an entomologist at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Corpus Christi, will be making observations,” she said. “Planting the same crops year after year, even in a cotton/sorghum rotation, tends to attract insects and promote continuous breeding cycles. Insects may not be interested if we introduce legumes.”