Improving Cereal Rye Cover Crop BMPs to Increase Adoption of Cover Crops

Emerging cover crops at ISU research farm
Land Management

Title:  Improving cereal rye cover crop BMPs to increase adoption of cover crops by Iowa farmers

Location:  Iowa State University Ag Engineering and Agronomy Farm, Boone, Iowa State University Northwest Research Farm, Iowa State University South East Research Farm

Time Period:  2018-2020

Research Team:  Alison Robertson, Mark Licht, J. Arbuckle, Mike Castellano, Liang Dong, Bob Hartzler, Erin Hodgson, Andy Lenssen, Marshall McDaniel, Tom Moorman and Alejandro Plastina

Project Description:

Issue: The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS) calls for cover crop implementation on over 12 million acres, which equates to every other field. Despite numerous environmental benefits associated with cover crops, many farmers are still hesitant to change their current production practices. Major barriers to introducing cover crops as a conservation practice include cost of implementation, yield drag, and knowledge. This multi-disciplinary team will address the barriers of using cover crops and develop best management practices (BMPs) for including a cover crop in a corn-soybean production system in Iowa for “hesitant” farmers. Using these data, we will develop a set of BMPs with a partial cost budget to encourage farmers to include cover crops in corn-soybean production systems, and therefore meet the INRS goals of cover crop acreage adoption in Iowa.

Objective: This research will evaluate the effect of cover crop seeding rate, seeding method, and termination timing on corn production, soil health and nutrient recycling. Treatment effects on (i) cover crop and corn growth and development (ii) weed, pest and disease pressure, (iii) nutrient recycling, and (iv) soil health will be assessed. In addition, partial budgets for treatments will be developed and Iowa farmers surveyed to identify common methods of seeding cover crops users and perceived efficacy of those methods.


Funders:  Iowa Nutrient Research Center

Disclaimer:  This is an active research site, please contact the research team prior to planning any site visits.