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Cover Crop

A no-till planting of corn into a cover crop of barley

Practice Code: 340
Reporting Unit: Acre (Ac.)

Growing a crop of grass, small grain or legumes primarily for seasonal protection and soil improvement.

Purposes and Benefits

  • A cover crop can reduce soil erosion by as much as 50 percent
  • Cover crops keep ground covered, conserve moisture, add organic matter to the soil, trap nutrients, improve soil tilth, and reduce weed competition
  • Improves water quality
  • Minimizes and reduces soil compaction

Web graphic: Raindrop and soilPhoto Gallery

Farming With Crop Residues

Farming with Crop Residues, a brochure published by the NRCS, presents photographs of various percentages of ground cover that can be expected using different tillage techniques.

Web image: Photo of corn residue left on the ground after tillageWeb image: Photo of corn residue left on the ground after tillageWeb image: Photo of corn residue left on the ground after tillage





Cornell University Cover Crop Decision Tool

Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers

The Cornell University Cover Crop Decision Tool helps you quickly narrow the choices of cover crop for your situation. 

This tool is based on

  1. the reason you need a cover crop;
  2. when you have a chance to plant; and
  3. how long it can stay in the field until you need to plant your next crop.

<<< Click image for full screen view
















Establishing Cover Crops in Corn at Time of Corn Planting

Web image: A crop of rye seeded at the time of corn planting provides many benefits

The Big Flats Plant Materials Center in Big Flats, New York has published the following guide for corn producers.

Cover Crops in Corn - A Guide for Corn Producers



Conservation Practice Documents

The following documents require Adobe Reader. All documents are less than 400 KB.

Conservation Practice Overview
NRCS New York Conservation Practice Standard

Web link image: Field Office Technical GuideDocuments associated with this and other conservation practices are available at the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide Web site.


Related Conservation Practices

This practice is commonly used in a Conservation Management System with practices such as:

Conservation Crop Rotation
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Nutrient Management

If you want to learn how you can protect natural resources on your farm or forestland, please contact your local NRCS Service Center.

Service Center Locator


How to Get Assistance




Back to Conservation Practices for New York