Cover Crop Resources
Cover crops are a great way to improve soil health. Many Iowa farmers are adding cover crops to their crop rotations so soil stays covered when the fields are not growing other crops. Cover crops also improve soil organic matter and slow water runoff.
Farmers have many questions about incorporating cover crops. Most asked questions include: what kinds of plants can be used, when and how to seed and when and how to terminate. With field days and workshops, Iowa Learning Farms strives to help farmers, and other interested people, find the answers to these questions and more.
Cover Crop Print Resources
NEW! Spring Grazing Cover Crops
For many livestock producers, cover crops and winter grazing go hand-in-hand; however, perhaps the most valuable time for grazing cover crops is in the spring. Winter annual cereal grains such as rye, wheat, and triticale grow fastest and provide the most tonnage in the early spring, before cool-season grasses start to grow.
NEW! Herbicide and Cover Crops Extension Publication
In addition to conservation purposes, cover crops can provide forage for livestock producers. It is important for livestock producers to consider restrictions on labels of herbicides used earlier in the growing season if they intend to use the cover crop as a forage source.
Cover Crops in Iowa: A Quick Guide
An "infographic" for a quick overview
Cover Crops In Iowa: A Glossary
A quick-read of cover crop terms and their meanings
Small Grain Cover Crops for Corn and Soybean (PDF)
Iowa State University Extension publication
Cover Crop Research and Demonstrations in Iowa
Below are resource files listing groups and locations of ongoing and completed cover crop research and demonstration activities in Iowa. Feel free to contact any of these groups for more information or if you’re interested in conducting trials or demonstrations on your farm.
Iowa Cover Crop Champions
These Iowa farmers have graciously offered to assist new cover crop users by offering information or answer any questions on the use and management of cover crops. There are many resources available, but if you're not sure where to turn for advice on cover crops, please feel free to contact any of the farmers listed here.
Cover Crop Cost Calculator
ILF has created a cover crop cost calculator tool to help calculate and compare the cost of drilling or aerial seeding cover crops. The downloadable Excel file calculates the total cost of using the cover crop including seed, application, and chemical termination. You can use the calculator for a single cover crop species or up to six species to a mixture. The tool calculates the cost of drilling and aerial application for easy comparison.
To use the calculator, download and open the Excel file (Microsoft Excel software must be installed on your computer in order to use the file). Any cell that is shaded in yellow can have a value inserted including the cost of the seed in $/lb, and the cost of application.
Cover Crop Seeding Rate Calculator
Another new tool can be used similarly as the Cost Calculator to find out seeding rates for several varieties of single species cover crops and for mixes too.
To use the Seeding Rate Calculator, download and open the Excel file (Microsoft Excel software must be installed on your computer in order to use the file). You can enter data into any yellow shaded box to compute seeding rates for cover crop plots.
Cover Crop Videos
Midwest Cover Crops Council website offers excellent resources for cover crops education as well as networking opportunities for cover crop users.
Also on the Midwest Cover Crops Council website is the Cover Crop Decision Tool. This free on-line resource can help you decide which cover crop variety is most suitable for your farming conditions. The tool has two parts: one for field crops and one for vegetable growing.
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture houses the Iowa Cover Crops Working Group page that lists several additional resources.
Blog by David Robison plantcovercrops.com contains lots of posts about cover crops across the midwest. He is a founding member of the Midwest Cover Crop Council.
Iowa Learning Farms Menu
- Cover Crops
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Aerial seeding of cover crops begins in Iowa
How cover crops pay off in a continuous no-tlll system
Don't let lingering herbicides hamper cover crop success
Utilizing cover crops as high quality feed
Cover crop tools: Equipment for conservation farming
Cover Crop: Kill it or keep it?
University study using cover crops to lure deer from livestock feed
Cover crops provide immediate soil benefits for no-tiller
Cover crops add to farm sustainability
Cover crop success depends on goals
Iowa Farmer Today
Waukee farmer reflects on first-time use of cover crops
Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network
Cover Crops are reducing nutrient losses, improving soil tilth for Wright County farmers
Timing critical to cover crop seeding
Iowa Farmer Today
12 Ways to Boost Cover Crop Performance
Farm Futures magazine