Researchers from North Dakota State University and the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan are investigating agronomic, environmental, and economic impacts of cover crops in ND’s semi-arid cropping systems. Dr. Berti of NDSU was recently awarded a USDA grant to investigate “A novel management approach to increase productivity, resilience, and long-term sustainability of cropping systems in the northern Great Plains”. We are evaluating the influence of root crops, warm and cool season grasses, warm and cool season legumes, and non-mycorrhizal and mycorrhizal broadleaf species as cover crops planted individually and in mixtures. Research is also being conducted on cover crop termination techniques and intercropping methods of establishing cash crops into cover crops. Our initial interest in cover crop research was motivated by the work of ND farmers who turned to cover crops as a way to retain soil moisture, build soil structure, protect against soil erosion, reduce chemical inputs, and enhance nutrient cycling on their farms.
Cover Crop Recipes
RECIPE – STARTING WITH COVER CROPS
Fitting cover crops into rotation can be challenging depending on which crops are grown. That challenge is further enhanced by a short growing season in this region. If you have a small grain or other short-season crop in rotation, it is easier to fit a cover crop after an early crop harvest. Farmers interested in using cover crops could consider including small grains in rotation to create that window of opportunity for cover crops when first starting this practice.