Online Tool Helps Select Cover Crops

A new web-based resource allows farmers in Midwestern states to choose cover crops to fit their production needs.

by Dani Yokhna
Courtesy Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/

The MCCC Cover Crop Decision Tool is designed to help farmers in the Midwest choose the best cover crop for their farms, whether it be alfalpha, clover, rye or another crop.

A new online tool to help farmers decide which cover crops will benefit their row-crop rotation is now available for Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

The Midwest Cover Crops Council’s Cover Crop Decision Tool uses consolidated cover-crop information by state or province to assist farmers in making cover-crop selections at the county level. The MCCC first released the tool in February 2011, providing information for farmers in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, and is currently working on updating the database for Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario. When completed the tool will also include Illinois and Iowa; work is set to begin on information for these states later this year.

Developing information for each state or province are university researchers, extension educators, Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel, state departments of agriculture personnel, crop advisers, seed suppliers and farmers.

“The MCCC hopes the cover-crop selector tool will encourage the adoption of cover crops by providing the information and decision-making help necessary for farmers to successfully integrate cover crops into their cropping systems,” says Eileen Kladivko, an agronomy professor at Purdue University who contributed to the project.

To use the tool, farmers select their state or province and county. They also can provide information about their cash crops, including planting and harvest dates; field information, such as the soil drainage class, artificial drainage or flooding; and desired cover-crop benefits.

Designed to be user-friendly, the tool allows farmers to immediately see how their input changes their cover-crop options. Farmers can then generate an information sheet for a selected cover crop, such as clover, that provides additional information and references relevant to application within the state or province.

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Funding for the project was made available through a Natural Resources Conservation Service Innovation Grant, Michigan State University’s Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs) and the Great Lakes Regional Water Program.

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