Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have two resources available to utilize. The two items are an expanded and updated second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide and also the Midwest Cover Crops Council cover crops selector tool.
The second edition of the pocket guide was release on Monday, September 22, 2014 and was produced by the Midwest Cover Crops Council and published via Purdue University.
Growers plant cover crops for a variety of reasons and possible benefits. Cover crops can trap nitrogen left in the soil after cash-crop harvest, scavenging the nitrogen to build soil organic matter and recycling some nitrogen for later crop use. They also can prevent erosion, improve soil physical and biological characteristics, suppress weeds, improve water quality and conserve soil moisture by providing surface mulch.
The first cover crops guide was released in February 2012. The updated guide is in response to the increasing interest in cover crops in the Midwest and to requests for additional information. This new information will help farmers better choose appropriate cover crops for their situation and better manage the cover crops they grow.
The updated guide features seven new topics: Getting started in cover crops; Rationale for fitting cover crops into different cropping systems; Suggested cover crops for common rotations; Cover crop effects on cash crop yields; Climate considerations including winter hardiness and water use; Adapting seeding rates and spring management based on weather; and "Up and coming" cover crops.
There also is more information about herbicide carryover, manure and bio solids applications, and crop insurance issues.
Four states have been added to the new guide to round out information for cover crops in the Midwest. They are Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The guide's second edition is available at Purdue Extension's The Education Store at:http://www.the-education-store.com . Search by the name of the publication or product code ID-433. Writers in the publication are from The Ohio State University Extension, Purdue University and Michigan State University.
Also available from the Midwest Cover Crops Council is the Cover Crops Decision Tool. The MCCC Cover Crops Decision tool is a web-based system to assist farmers in selecting cover crops to include in field crop and vegetable crop rotations. The web based tool allows users to choose specific state and county locations, along with crop rotation information, soil type, drainage class and top factors the farmer is looking for to determine suitable cover crops for each specific location. The tool narrows down potential cover crop options and the benefits received from each specific cover crop. A report is created with considerations for using the cover crop in a specific location, planting information, termination dates, performance/roles, cultural traits, potential advantages and disadvantages and finally information resources about the cover crop.
The following link: http://www.mccc.msu.edu/selectorINTRO.html will take you to the web based Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) Cover Crops Decision Tool.