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Benefits of Adding Cover Crops to Your Rotation

corn and inter seeded radish

Using cover crops in your rotation can help you meet a variety of goals:

Improve Soil Health

Provide cover to unseeded ground

Increase water usage

Manage a salt issue

Provide grazing/forage opportunities Break up soil compaction

Fix/scavenge nitrogen

Cover Crop 101 Video

Incorporate the Use of Cover Crops into Management Plants for Prevent-Plant and Salt-Affected Fields.

With wet spring conditions fields across the state were unable to be planted this year. Prevented planting acres are a great opportunity to utilize cover crops as a tool to increase soil health and help you get back in the field next spring.

Getting Started:

Developing a cover crop mix is dependent on you location and goals. Contact your local NDSU Extension Agent, seed supplier or NRCS/Soil Conservation District to get started.

Cover Crop Chart

Cover Crop Chart Developed by USDA-ARS NGPRL 

Other Considerations:

How will you terminate your cover crop mix?

Some species will over winter or set seed, which could become a weed problem for your following crop. Have a management plan prepared before seeding to ensure a successful cover crop.

Residual Herbicide?

Check your field’s chemical history to ensure proper germination of cover crop seed and next seasons crop.

How will you plant your cover crop mix?

Both broadcasting and direct seeding a cover crop mix come with their own set of challenges.

When broadcasting consider seed size: larger seeds, like winter pea, need to be incorporated into the soil in order to germinate; small seeds work best for broadcasting. Precipitation is also crucial for seed germination, getting seed out before a rain is ideal.

If you plan to direct seed a cover crop mix planting depth is a major factor for success. Choose seed with similar or flexible planting depths.