An updated and expanded resource is now available to farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health. The second edition of the "Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide", released September 22, was produced by Purdue University and the Midwest Cover Crops Council, with input from DeAnn Presley, Kansas State University soil management specialist; Peter Tomlinson, K-State environmental quality specialist; and other agronomists in the Midwest.
"This is a great resource on cover crops. It is objective and thorough, and applicable to conditions of Kansas as well as neighboring states," Presley said.
Growers plant cover crops for a variety of reasons and possible benefits, Presley added. Cover crops can trap nitrogen left in the soil after cash-crop harvest, scavenging the nitrogen to build soil organic matter and recycling nitrogen for later crop use. They also can prevent erosion, improve soil physical and biological characteristics, suppress weeds, improve water quality, and conserve soil moisture by providing surface mulch.
The first cover crops guide was released in February 2012, and the updated guide is in response to the increasing interest in cover crops in the Midwest and requests for additional information.
"All this new information will help farmers better choose appropriate cover crops for their situation and better manage the cover crops they grow – all for greater potential benefit for their soils and cash crop growth," said Eileen Kladivko, Purdue professor of agronomy, and editor of the new publication.
The updated guide features seven new topics:
• Getting started in cover crops
• Rationale for fitting cover crops into different cropping systems
• Suggested cover crops for common rotations
• Cover crop effects on cash crop yields
• Climate considerations including winter hardiness and water use
• Adapting seeding rates and spring management based on weather
• "Up and coming" cover crops
There also is more information about herbicide carryover, manure and biosolids applications, and crop insurance issues.
Four states, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota have been added to the new guide to round out information for cover crops in the Midwest.
The guide's second edition is available for purchase at Purdue Extension's The Education Store. Kansas producers may be able to get a copy of the new publication from Presley later this year. "I bought 500 copies for Kansas producers which I'll be giving away at K-State Research and Extension winter extension meetings," Presley said.
For more information, contact DeAnn Presley at [email protected] or 785-532-1218
Source: K-State Research and Extension