ST. PAUL — Wondering how to do cover crops? University of Minnesota Extension, in collaboration with the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC), has produced cover crop “recipes” for two planting systems.
The recipes provide step-by-step guidance to some of the lowest-risk starting points for cover crops. They don’t cover the whole spectrum of possibilities, but they can help beginners get most pieces in place to incorporate cover crops into a farm operation.
The “Post corn, going to soybean” recipe suggests cereal rye, which provides an overwintering ground cover. Soybeans often thrive when planted into standing dead or living cereal rye residue. The “Post soybean, going to corn” recipe suggests oats, which will winterkill and leave a smaller amount of residue in the corn seedbed the following year.
In addition to protecting soil from erosion and building soil organic matter, cover crops can take up excess nitrate left after a cash crop, reducing nitrogen loads in surface or groundwater.
The recipes can be found at http://mccc.msu.edu/statesprovince/minnesota, which also includes detailed information on common cover crop species and links to other resources.
Extension Educator Liz Stahl led the recipe development with Anna Cates, Axel Garcia y Garcia, and Scotty Wells, Extension agronomist.