Time to think about cover crops after soybeans

New publication to assist soybean farmers with cover crop use.

If you are a soybean farmer who plants or is thinking about planting cover crops, it’s time to start planning for this fall. Growing cover crops after soybeans has many benefits, but there are challenges as well. Benefits include improving soil health through increased soil organic matter, reducing compaction and enhancing rotational diversity. Putting more living plants into the system and eliminating the brown gaps will also reduce erosion and help maintain water, carbon and nutrient cycles in the soil. In a 2014 survey of farmers from the North Central Region states including Michigan, getting cover crops established and finding sufficient time in the fall to seed and manage them were the greatest challenges to their use.

A new publication, “Integrating Cover Crops in Soybean Rotations,” is available online. This resource on cover crop use for soybean farmers was produced by a team from the Midwest Cover Crop Council and funded by a grant from the North Central Soybean Research Program. The publication discusses challenges for the North Central Region and includes survey results and farmer interviews from both users and non-users of cover crops in soybean rotations. Recommendations for addressing these challenges are presented. While there is no one-size-fits-all cover crops solution for soybean farmers, there are many options that may provide benefits and improve profits. This publication will help soybean producers explore the many cover crop choices available to them and help them overcome the management challenges associated with adding them to a soybean rotation.

For more information on cover crops, contact me at baas@anr.msu.edu, Paul Gross at grossp@anr.msu.edu or Christina Curell at curellc@anr.msu.edu

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