Cover crop selection tool available for Michigan vegetable farmers

Try our online tool to find the best cover crop for your vegetable rotations.

The use of cover crops in vegetable production is becoming more wide spread in Michigan and elsewhere.  As cover crop use has increased, many farmers are looking for species that can bring a specific benefit or a combination of benefits within their vegetable rotations.  Through funding from Project GREEEN, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension (MSUE) and the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) have developed an on-line tool (Figure 1) to help vegetable farmers select cover crops to improve productivity. 

The decision tool allows the user to input location, cash crop, drainage and cover crop goal information.  Goals include nitrogen source, nitrogen scavenger, soil builder, plow-layer compaction fighter, topsoil compaction fighter, soil erosion fighter, wind erosion fighter, weed fighter, disease suppressor, nematode suppressor, quick growth, lasting residue, quick breakdown, attracts beneficials, nurse crop, forage value and seed/grain value. The tool screens cover crop choices based on field drainage and up to three user specified goals.  County-based seed dates for reliable establishment are displayed.  An information sheet can be generated for a cover crop selection that provides additional information on planting, termination, advantages, disadvantages and references.

The vegetable cover crop decision tool and other cover crop resources are available on the MCCC website www.mccc.msu.edu under Cover Crop Resources, Cover Crop Selector.

A multi-disciplinary team from the public and private sectors collaborated to create the vegetable cover crop decision tool.  Team members included Dale Mutch (MSUE), Dean Baas (MSUE), Victoria Ackroyd (MSUE), Ron Goldy (MSUE), Vicki Morrone (MSUE), Hannah Stevens (MSUE), Norm Myers (MSUE), Bill Steenwyk (MSUE), Dan Brainard (MSU), Mathieu Ngouajio (MSU), Rufus Isaacs (MSU), Sieg Snapp (MSU), Erin Haramoto (MSU), Zsofia Szendrei (MSU), George Bird (retired MSU), Thomas Bjorkman (Cornell University), Anne Verhallen (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs) George McManus III (vegetable farmer)  and George McManus IV (vegetable farmer).

Figure 1. MCCC Vegetable Cover Crop Decision Tool

Vegetable tool

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