Cover crops can increase organic matter, fix nitrogen, prevent nutrient loss and boost water infiltration – all of which benefit the cash crop that follows. When manure is combined into cover crop rotations, it further provides a slow release nitrogen source into cropping systems. By keeping nitrogen in an organic form, nitrate leaching into groundwater can be reduced up to 29%.
Deep and interconnected roots of a cover crop hold soil in place and above ground vegetation absorbs the impact of raindrops, reducing erosion and loss of nutrients caused by torrential rainfall. Cover crops also reduce erosion in dry weather or during winter from strong winds. For some farmers using no-till, cover crops provide additional benefits and may be a way to boost yields in long-term no-till systems over time.
For some Nebraska farmers, cover crops can be used as a high-quality forage resource harvested by haying, grazing or ensiling. Some cover crops are ideal for filling grazing forage gaps when other pasture resources are limited.
Cover crops can help control weeds through competition (light, water, nutrients), physical suppression and allelopathy. Cover crops can also be an important tool in managing difficult-to-control weeds like Palmer amaranth and Marestail.
Cover crops provide many benefits for Nebraska farmers, and how farmers use them varies from region to region and farm to farm. IANR experts can share insight and ideas, as well as information on cropland lease arrangements and more.
Interviews and recordings of Cover Crop and Soil Health Conferences
Cover Crops Virtual Experience Introduction
Soil Health Demostrations
Grazing And Prussic Acid Risks
Cover Crops in Soybeans
Interseeding Cover Crops With Steve Melvin
Cover Crops in Corn
Cover Crop Mixtures For Interseeded Cover Crops
Herbicide Selection For Interseeded Cover Crops
Dryland Cover Crops
Corn Management Studies To Improve Cover Crop Interseeding Success
Interseeding Cover Crops In Soybeans
Interview with Dan Hilger