CTIC is doing the math on cover crops. You can, too.
CTIC’s Economic, Agronomic and Environmental Benefits of Cover Crops project, usually called "Cover Crop Math," will pencil out the full range of benefits that cover crops bring to the farm and surrounding areas. Twenty-one farmers in seven states across the Midwest are sharing samples and information from their operations which project partners are analyzing. Four farmers are conducting additional nitrogen rate strip trials to quantify opportunities to reduce nitrogen inputs following legume cover crops. The result of this work will be a clearer picture of cover cropping’s role in improving productivity and sustainability on farms throughout the Midwest. Critically, it will assign real dollar figures to the potential for increased profitability in a system that utilizes cover crops.
The project will also investigate the capacity of marginal and cover cropped ground to function as habitat for honey bees. Five pairs of farmers and beekeepers will be established. The farmers will provide additional bee forage either by planting pollinator habitat in marginal areas or by adjusting their cover crop management to allow additional blooming. Beekeepers will place hives on the partnering farm and monitor colony health and productivity. These partnerships will provide a useful model of communication between farmers and beekeepers and help us learn how farmers can support pollinator health without sacrificing profitability.
This project is funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and by several partnering organizations. Partners include: Bayer CropScience, Corn & Soybean Digest, CropLife Foundation, Dupont Pioneer, Monsanto, National Corn Growers Association, The Nature Conservancy, Purdue University, and Syngenta.
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CTIC’s Cover Crops Project
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Project Area Map
Soybeans harvested October 11 by Ray McKenzie, a producer participating on the project.
Cover crop pictures provided by Dewain Haag, a producer on the project.
Pictures provided by Rod Sommerfield, a producer on the project. Center photo displays part of the protocol for biomass sampling, namely using a hula hoop to identify the area that is being sampled.
This material is based upon work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-3A75-13-198.