By Paul Gross, Michigan State University Extension
What challenges do soybean farmers face planting cover crops before and after soybeans?
The benefits of cover crops in rotations is widely documented and include reducing erosion; improving soil structure; nutrient cycling; increasing soil organic matter; supporting soil biology; and suppressing weeds, disease and pathogens. Soybean and corn farmer interest in cover crops has increased dramatically in the past several years to take advantage of the many benefits that cover crops can provide. There are a number of challenges that interested farmers are facing about reliable establishment after harvest and length of time cover crops can grow in the long, cold, Midwestern winters.
Research is being conducted in Michigan and the Midwest to evaluate best management practices for establishing cover crops in a number of cropping systems. However, there has been very little research in Midwest systems that lack diversity in crop rotations. Economics have driven most Midwest farmers to corn and soybean rotations. This lack of diversity has resulted in lower soybean yields than would be expected from improved soybean genetics, especially compared to the annual yield increases in corn. This could be due to a number of factors including increased pest problems and poor soil health.
To learn more about the challenges of including cover crops before and after soybeans, a team from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) is conducting surveys of north central region soybean growers and soybean certified crop advisors (CCAs)/agronomists to learn more about their use and challenges from a farmer’s perspective. This survey is funded by a North Central Soybean Research Program grant and the information will be used to produce a report for farmers on cover crop use in soybean production.
The survey is intended for soybean growers or CCAs/agronomists and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Your answers will remain anonymous. The information collected will provide information on the use of cover crops in soybean production systems and identify the challenges and research needs on the use of cover crops in soybean production systems in the north central region.
If you are a soybean grower or CCA/agronomist advising soybean growers that has used or recommended cover crops, or have never considered or recommended cover crops, you are encouraged to complete the survey. Your opinions are valued by the MCCC.
Source : msu.edu