Refine your cover crop management

SARE resources to help you get started or enhance your cover crop management in favor of profit and pollinators.

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Are you looking for practical information on sustainable farming and ranching? You can find many books and bulletins on the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) website. SARE resource topic areas include soil health, ecological pest management, organic production, farm-to-table, season extension, pollinators, social resilience and many other important topics in sustainable agriculture. Both print and online resources are available. Materials are produced by SARE, farmers and researchers.

This article focuses on the three leading resources on cover crops produced by SARE, for more information about how to integrate cover crops into your farm management contact the MSU Extension cover crops team. Farmers in Michigan plant cover crops to improve the soil and protect valuable topsoil from erosion. The more farmers use cover crops, the more they value this conservation practice due to the benefits they are seeing on the ground.

Cover Crop Economics: Opportunities to Improve Your Bottom Line in Row Crops looks at the economics of cover crops in corn and soybean rotations to help farmers answer that big question, when do cover crops pay? Largely based on yield and economic data gathered over five years of national cover crop surveys, this bulletin addresses the kinds of economic returns that can be expected from cover crops both under various management scenarios and as cover crops improve soil health over time.

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects is a bulletin that will help you use cover crops to encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on your farm while you address other resource concerns. It begins with an overview of pollinator and beneficial insect ecology, then describes cover crop selection and management, how to make cover crops work on your farm, and helpful and proven crop rotations. It will also touch on the limitations of cover crops and pesticide harm reduction, among other topics.

Managing Cover Crops Profitably explores how and why cover crops work and provides all the information needed to build cover crops into any farming operation. Along with detailed management information on the most used species—including grasses, grains, brassicas and mustards and legumes—this book offers chapters on the role of cover crops in broader topics such as crop rotations, pests and conservation tillage. It also has appendices on seed suppliers and regional experts. You can download the book as a free PDF, purchase print copies online or reach out to Sarah Fronczak to request a free copy.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

SARE is a United States Department of Agriculture program that shares numerous resources for farmers and agriculture educators including books, bulletins, videos and more. For more information about SARE grants and resources, visit Michigan SARE or SARE.

North Central Region (NCR) SARE grants include Farmer Rancher Grants, Research and Education Grants, Youth Educator Grants and other grant programs. You can find them all at NCR-SARE Grants. Michigan SARE grants include the Michigan SARE Travel Scholarship and two funding opportunities for people organizing sustainable agriculture workshops and conferences.

Michigan SARE Coordinator Sarah Fronczak, Tribal SARE Coordinator Emily Proctor and Katie Brandt from the Michigan State University Organic Farmer Training Program are glad to advise grant applicants, review proposals, as well as support farmers, educators and students applying for NCR-SARE grants. Grant-writing support is available free of charge for all six North Central SARE grants and for Michigan SARE mini-grants. Email or with questions, to have a proposal reviewed or to set up a time to discuss your proposal idea. Tribal members and communities are encouraged to reach out to Emily Proctor at for assistance with SARE proposals.

The program aims to support an inclusive mix of farmers and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program or political beliefs.

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