Poster Number 567
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E
Cover crops provide a variety of ecosystem services including erosion protection, soil building, nitrogen sourcing and scavenging, and weed, disease and pest management. The range of cover crop choices includes grasses, brassicas and legumes. While cereal rye dominates cover crop establishment, other cover crops are increasingly under consideration to provide specific environmental and agronomic services to cropping systems. Considerable plot- and field-scale research has been performed for numerous cash/cover crop combinations; however farmer access to performance and application information relevant to the Midwest region is limited. To provide farmers guidance for cover crop selection, a matrix tool was developed for the crop management zones of the Midwest region. The matrix tool is patterned after the cover crop characteristics charts in the SAN/SARE book “Managing Cover Crops Profitably” detailing: 1) performance and roles, 2) cultural traits, 3) planting and 4) potential advantages and disadvantages. The information will be more detailed and specific for the Midwest region and sub regions including adding more cover crop choices, including varieties when known to be different, and considering additional roles or traits of cover crops. The matrix tool will compile existing information and research results from the region, gleaned from experts in each state as well as published research and extension articles. The matrix tool will be made available in paper form and on the web in a form easy to use for farmers as well as NRCS and other conservation or farm advisors. The matrix tool is being developed through a collaborative effort of the Midwest Cover Crops Council including seven Midwestern states and Ontario. The development process will be described and example data presented.