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Make Cover Crops Your Priority

As combines roll through the countryside, it’s time to make cover crops a priority. If you haven’t decided on species or seeding method yet, the decisions may seem overwhelming. Before you select a cover crop, consider the goals you want to accomplish with your cover crop.

Cover crops offer a range of possible benefits that include the ability to:

  • Fix nitrogen.
  • Reduce erosion.
  • Increase organic matter.
  • Reduce soil compaction.
  • Scavenge nitrogen.
  • Improve weed control.
  • Increase water infiltration.
  • Improve soil biological activity.

Consider using the Midwest Cover Crop Council’s Cover Crop Decision Tool to help select the best cover crop or mix for your farm.

Once you have selected the right cover, you can decide on a planting method. A few years ago, seeding options for cover crops were limited primarily to a drill. However, the recent boom in cover crop interest has caused a boom in additional seeding methods.

Seeding methods include:

  • Drill
  • Air seeder
  • High-clearance sprayer
  • Airplane
  • Interseeder

The key to success is partially dependent on the effort put into them. Treat the cover crops with the same urgency you’d treat cash crops. Seed cover crops as soon as possible to ensure enough time for them to establish in the fall.

See below for tips on seed selection, planting methods, and general guidelines to follow for cover crops.

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