SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) has updated its “Cover Crop Guide for New Adopters” to include the latest information from researchers to help Illinois farmers utilize the best management practices for incorporating a cover crop ahead of soybeans.
The new 16-page Guide was created through the collaboration of NREC-funded researchers. Together they pooled their research results and compiled the information so that new adopters can easily understand the technical aspects (why, what, when, how much, where and other considerations) of planting cover crops. NREC, along with the researchers, is encouraging producers to “think a systems approach” when planting cover crops, rather than thinking of cover crops only as an additional input.
Researchers from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, and Purdue University have been studying the various variables involved in a successful cover crop program. Research efforts are supported by Dan Schaefer with Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) through a grant from NREC. This research has been performed at an on-farm, field-scale level and has shown – over multiple years – that a cereal rye cover crop ahead of soybeans has no negative impact on the soybean crop, and that the cover crop successfully scavenges nitrogen — lowering the levels of N in field tiles.
As defined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, Illinois has a target of reducing nitrogen and phosphate losses by 2025. Cover crops are identified as an important tool in meeting that target. NREC’s investment in this research helps to support the collaboration across the agricultural industry, environmental groups, and engaged stakeholders.
The guide is available for download from the Illinois NREC website at www.illinoisnrec.org. Printed copies can be requested by filling out the contact form (https://forms.gle/FoAUuhrx7PT54Ube7) on the website or emailing Julie@illinoisnrec.org.
— Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council