MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Managing weeds when seeding cover crops

The fifth webinar in this series highlights research at MSU looking at the compatibility of different cover crop species with herbicides used in corn, soybean and wheat.

Using a converted sprayer to broadcast seed cover crops between corn.
Using a converted sprayer to broadcast seed cover crops between corn. Photo by Marc Hasenick.

Cover crops provide several benefits, including weed control, protecting soil from erosion and promoting soil health. When adopting this practice, farmers face several challenges, such as competition from weeds impacting the productivity of cover crops or even the cash crops themselves. For this reason, it is very important that weeds are controlled using herbicides, even when using cover crops.

To effectively control weeds when integrating cover crops into crop rotations, farmers need information on which chemicals can safely be used alongside the cover crop species they are using. Because cover crops are incompatible with certain herbicides, research is needed to make sure we do not control the cover crop along with the weeds.

Michigan State University Extension specialist Christy Sprague talks about her weed management research in collaboration with Aaron Brooker, Erin Hill and Karen Renner. In this talk, she addresses the question: How do we best manage weeds when we seed cover crops in an integrated system?

Sprague looked at many systems including interseeding cover crops into corn, seeding cover crops after soybean harvest in the fall and interseeding red clover into wheat. Her goal was to test at several of the different active ingredients in herbicides that could be potentially used in corn, soybean and wheat. Because these herbicides are available by themselves or in different mixtures, she tested them alone and in different mixtures and at different rates. In this webinar, she discusses her findings looking at the tolerance levels of different cover crops to these herbicides.

For more information on this project, contact Christy Sprague and check out this fact sheet, “Herbicide Options for Cover Crops Interseeded in Corn.” 

Cover crop information and resources are available through MSU Extension’s Cover Crops website and the Midwest Cover Crops Council, or contact Dean Baas at

Other articles in this series

This work is supported by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program 2017-70006-27175 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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