By Gary Lesoing
An online cover crop selector tool is now available for Nebraska, thanks to work by the Midwest Cover Crops Council and representatives of Nebraska Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the cover crop industry in Nebraska.
The new cover crop selector tool is available on the Midwest Cover Crops Council website. Users can plug in the top three attributes they're seeking in a cover crop, and the tool will provide a 1-to-4 rating of those attributes for individual cover crops or cover crop mixes.
The tool rates such attributes as nitrogen source, nitrogen scavenger, soil building, erosion fighter, weed fighter, good grazing, quick growth, lasting residue and winter survivability.
The user then can click on the individual cover crop description and learn specific information, such as planting rates and timing, termination methods and timing, and advantages and disadvantages of the cover crop.
With the information provided, users can determine the cover crops best suited to their purpose. The Nebraska site includes 47 cover crops and six mixes.
The development of this tool was led by Dean Baas, sustainable agriculture educator at Michigan State University, and Anna Morrow of Purdue University, Midwest Cover Crops Council program manager.
They worked with more than 20 team members from Nebraska. Baas has led most of the states within the Midwest Cover Crops Council through the process to develop a cover crop selector tool. Selection tools also are available for Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and the province of Ontario.
Nebraska Extension has been a member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council for five years. Gary Lesoing, Extension educator, represents Nebraska on the Board of Directors.
The Midwest Cover Crops Council has several excellent resources, including the "Midwest Cover Crop Field Guide," a cover crop pocket guide used by many farmers in Nebraska and across the Midwest.
This summer, Nebraska Extension plans to release several cover crop recipes for beginning cover crop growers. These resources help guide a new grower through cover crop planning and preparation, fall work, spring work, and adjustments under various conditions and production systems.
Lesoing is a Nebraska Extension educator.