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.
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.
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.
This fact sheet provides information about soil microbes, nutrient recycling, and microbial soil organic matter decomposition.
This fact sheet highlights the physical, chemical, biological, and economic benefits of using cover crops in a sustainable cropping system.
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.
This information sheet gives an overview of how to use cover crops to maintain good levels of nutrients and organic matter in the soil.
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.
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.
This session covered basic principles necessary to build soil health.
Learn from soil health experts about some of the latest research on impacts of cover crops on soil nutrients.
Learn about basic soil health principles and how cover crops are key to making those happen on your farm.
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:
- Corn Silage Production with Kura Clover Living Mulch and Winter Rye Cover Crop; Soil Erosion, Nutrient Runoff, and Soil Physical Properties (2010, Wisconsin)
- Lighting up the Black Box: Improving Legume Performance on Organic Farms by Optimizing Microbially-Mediated Plant and Soil Nitrogen Cycling Processes (2010, North Carolina)
- Balancing Nitrogen Sinks and Sources Using Cover Crops on Manured Fields (2010, New York)
- Optimization of Corn Production Following Legume Green Manures (2008, Wisconsin)
- Using Oilseed as Biological Plow to Reduce Soil Compaction and Recycle Nutrients (2008, Ohio)
- Learning from Farmer Innovation in N Fixation for Improved Nutrient Management on Organic Farms (2007, New York)
- Managing Soil Food Webs for Enriched and Suppressive Soils: Effects of Cover Crop Diversity and Quality (2007, California)
- Selecting Cover Crops for Diverse Functions: An Integrated Soil Management Approach for Organic Strawberry Production in North Carolina (2007, North Carolina)
- Estimating Nitrogen Contribution from Cover Crops in Organic Vegetable and Cane Berry Farms (2006, Oregon)
- Evaluating Winter Crops for the Environment and for Profit [on dairy farms] (2005, Ohio)
- Multipurpose Brassica Cover Crops for Sustaining Northeast Farmers (2003, Maryland)
- Winter Cover Crops for Corn Production in the Northeast: N Balance and Soil Moisture Status (1989, Maryland)
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.