SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — “Considering Cover Crops?” is a newly-published guide for Illinois farmers that provides a comprehensive resource to the most recent research for effectively incorporating a cover crop ahead of corn, soybeans and wheat.

The guide outlines comprehensive tactics for cover crop use as part of a nutrient management strategy. Research results from planting to termination of cover crops are included.

With funding from the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council, researchers from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and PurdueUniversity are studying the various variables involved in a successful cover crop program. This research has been performed at an on-farm, field-scale level in several locations across Illinois and over multiple years.

Researchers have planted cereal rye as a cover crop because it is easy to establish, hardy and easy to terminate, but emphasize that the same principles associated with rye can be used with wheat or winter barley as a cover crop.

The publication offers recommendations, observations and advice to Illinois farmers on choice of cover crop, plus the timing of seeding and termination. The guide also features detailed photos that clearly illustrate the production practices being discussed.

As defined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, Illinois has a target of reducing nitrogen losses by 410 million pounds and phosphorous losses by 38 million pounds 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 12-page guide is available for download from the Illinois NREC website at www.illinoisnrec.org/cover-crop-guide-2-0. Printed copies can be requested by emailing julie.armstrong@illinoisnrec.org.

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