Episode two of SARE’s “What is Sustainable Agriculture” animation series illustrates how producers can use cover crops to improve productivity and sustainability. “Cover Crops and Soil Health” outlines how cover crops can build soil structure, protect water quality, suppress pests and improve a farm’s bottom line.

Dig Deeper: Cover Crops and Soil Health

Information for farmers, ranchers, educators and researchers who are seeking to use cover crops to improve soil health and farm management.

Stories from the Field

Here are some of the ways SARE grantees are improving farm and ranch sustainability with cover crops.

Abbey Wick worked with Doug Toussaint and other farmers to evaluate how cover crops affect soil health

North Dakota Farmers Pursue Soil Stewardship Through Cover Crops

" "We are building a soil health network of farmers, scientists, consultants, state organizations, industry and Extension." Abbey Wick, North Dakota State University " THE CHALLENGE The practice of planting a cover crop holds many opportunities for farmers. Cover crops can build soil health, curb erosion, control weeds, improve water and nutrient management, and increase…

Resources and Learning

Browse all of SARE's resources on cover crops. Examples include:

cover image of Cover Crop Economics publication

Cover Crop Economics

Cover crops can build soil health, control weeds, conserve moisture, provide grazing opportunities and more. But when do they start to pay for themselves? This analysis looks at the economics behind different management scenarios to determine if cover crops are likely to improve profitability in one, three or five years of use in corn and soybean rotations. 

Cover Crop Adoption by the Numbers

The National Cover Crop Survey provides unique insights into farmers' experiences with cover crops—what cover crops they plant, how they manage cover crops and what challenges and benefits they've seen.

2019-2020 Survey: report (PDF)
2016-2017 Survey: report (PDF)
2015-2016 Survey: report (PDF)
2014-2015 Surveyreport (PDF)
2013-2014 Surveyreport (PDF)
2012-2013 Surveyreport (PDF)
(This survey was not conducted in 2018-2019.)