Cover crops have the potential to provide multiple benefits in a cropping system. They prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, suppress weeds, improve the availability of soil water, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits. The species of cover crop selected along with its management determine the benefits and returns.
Cover Crop Termination Guidelines
The termination guidelines provides information on termination of cover crops on non-irrigated cropland. They were created by NRCS, Risk Management Agency (RMA), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and other public and private stakeholders to address concerns about cover crops’ impact on crop insurance. Click here for termination guidelines.
National Study Progress Reports
The USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program is conducting studies at their centers in California, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington to evaluate the influence of seeding rates and plant diversity on soil health. These centers are providing annual reports, allowing us to follow what happens when equal treatments are planted at varied locations across the U.S.
The following plant guides describe the characteristics of some commonly used cover crops. They provide assistance in selecting appropriate cover crops, when and how to plant and when to terminate or incorporate the plant into the soil.
Plant Guide for Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum) (PDF; 326 KB) Crimson clover is commonly used as a winter or summer annual cover crop in rotation with vegetables or field crops (Clark, 2007). It can be used alone or as part of a mixture with other legumes, small grains, and winter annual grasses.
Plant Guide for Field Mustard (Brassica rapa ssp. rapa) (PDF; 299 KB) Field mustard (Brassica rapa ssp. rapa) is an annual or biennial forb that is used as forage, cover crop, or biofumigant. There are also horticultural cultivars used as vegetable crops including turnip and rapini or broccoli raab.
Web Soil Survey - Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides access to the largest natural resource information system in the world.
Under Cover Farmer - This Youtube video produced for the NRCS East National Technology Support Center (ENTSC) showcases farmers experiences with cover crops.
Plant Materials Soil Health Study Blog - *USDA Connect USDA Employee Blog *Only USDA authenticated users can access this content)
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