Cover Crops: Soil and Fertility Management

Cover Crops: Soil and Fertility Management

Cover Crops: Soil and Fertility Management

From cycling nutrients to reducing erosion to breaking compaction, cover crops offer a host of benefits to soil and fertility.

Building Soils for Better Crops, 3rd Edition


Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management, now expanded and in full color.

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Organic Fertilizer and Cover Crop Calculator


This free online tool compares the nutrient value and cost of cover crops, organic and synthetic fertilizers and compost. Use this Excel Calculator to develop well balanced and cost effective nutrient management programs for your farm.

Estimating Plant-Available Nitrogen Release from Cover Crops


This Oregon State University fact sheet explains the basics of plant-available nitrogen (PAN); when to kill cover crops for the maximum PAN benefit; step-by-step instructions on how to perform site-specific measurements to predict PAN from your cover crop; and case studies from the Willamette Valley.

Understanding Soil Microbes and Nutrient Recycling


This fact sheet provides information about soil microbes, nutrient recycling, and microbial soil organic matter decomposition.

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Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil and Water Quality


This fact sheet highlights the physical, chemical, biological, and economic benefits of using cover crops in a sustainable cropping system.

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The Biology of Soil Compaction


This fact sheet discusses how soil porosity, water infiltration, soil aeration, and soil structure increase under natural vegetation and no-till systems with continuous living cover.

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Cover Crops for Soil Health and Nutrient Conservation and Update on the PSU Cover Crop Interseeder


Dr. Sjoerd Duiker presents how cover crops can be used to conserve nutrients over the winter, reduce erosion, and replace nitrogen fertilizer needs in the following crop. Dr. Greg Roth presents an update on the Penn State Cover Crop Interseeder, including results from field trials testing the establishment of different cover crop species when interseeded into standing corn crop.

Cover Cropping: On-Farm, Solar-Powered Soil Building


This information sheet gives an overview of how to use cover crops to maintain good levels of nutrients and organic matter in the soil.

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Optimizing Weed Suppression and Nutrient Use Efficiency in Cover Crop-Based No-Till Organic Corn


In this webinar, Hanna Poffenbarger of the University of Maryland and Steven Mirsky of the USDA-ARS Sustainable Agriculture Systems Lab discuss optimizing cover crop mixture composition and manure application to achieve weed suppression and adequate, efficient nitrogen delivery in a cover crop-based no-till corn system.

Nitrogen Management with Cover Crop Mixtures


Charlie White, of Penn State Extension, presents case studies of how mixtures of different cover crop types performed at supplying nitrogen to a following corn crop and reducing nitrate leaching into the subsoil. Tools to assess nitrogen supplied by cover crops to the next cash crop are also discussed.

Soil Health Principles


This session covered basic principles necessary to build soil health.

Cover Crops as Part of an Overall Nutrient Management System


Learn from soil health experts about some of the latest research on impacts of cover crops on soil nutrients.

Cover Crops, Soil Health Principles and Maximizing Yields


Learn about basic soil health principles and how cover crops are key to making those happen on your farm.

Combining Livestock, Manure and Cover Crops


A livestock and cover crop combination is the fastest way to profit from your investment.

Also, visit SARE's database for reports on these research projects:

Dig deeper into cover crops research: SARE has funded hundreds of research and education projects related to cover crops since 1988. This topic room features only a glimpse into SARE's entire portfolio of cover crop research. To discover more, visit SARE's database of projects and conduct full text or advanced keyword searches.


Cover Crop Innovators Series

Watch 10 short videos of innovative Midwestern farmers describing how they have successfully added cover crops to their cash crop rotations. Learn more.


Are you an ag educator or farmer interested in sharing the Cover Crop Topic Room at an event? Consider using this one-page flyer (PDF) or the four-page topic brief, Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations.


Farmers Say Cover Crops Work

SARE-CTIC CC Survey Report Cover

During the fall of 2012, corn yields increased 9.6% when planted after a cover crop, compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops, and soybean yields improved 11.6% following cover crops. Because of this, and witnessed improvements to soil and water quality, farmers across the Midwest are rapidly expanding their cover crop acreage.

Learn more about farmers' experiences with cover crops in the 2012-2013 Cover Crop Survey. Read a summary or download the full report.