Big Improvements Thanks to Cover Crops

When you ask Reynaldo how he’s getting such great harvests in this dry land, his ready answer is, “Cover crops!” Overuse of fertilizers and pesticides had led to decreasing yields, and the hot sun dried out and hardened his soil. It was always a struggle to put enough food on the table and pay his bills.

When an ag technician from local partner ACJ invited him to a meeting to learn some new ideas, Reynaldo’s first impulse was “not more meetings!” But he liked the guy, and said yes. He learned about preserving soil moisture and adding nutrients back in by planting cover crops, in this case, velvet bean. It only took him three months to see the difference.

Says Reynaldo, “The soil was softer and more fertile. I don’t use nearly as many agro-chemicals anymore, which saves me a lot of money, and I’ve doubled my corn harvest! My neighbors are really impressed by what I’ve accomplished, and they want to try cover crops too. In fact, I’ve earned a bit of extra cash selling them velvet bean seeds. I’ve even experimented with developing bean and corn varieties that produce well even if it doesn’t rain much. I can sell these seeds in my community and neighboring ones.”

To sum it all up, he says, “I’m grateful to God and this program because my family now has enough to eat all year round. I enjoy being an example to other farmers, and I pray for continued good health because I want to see how much more I can achieve on my farm.”

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