Decision tool makes selecting cover crops easy

Cover crops provide a number of economical environmental and social benefits to Midwest farmers.

The benefits of cover crops include improved yields by improving soil quality, reduced fertilizer costs, conservation of soil moisture, and reduced need for herbicides and other pesticides. To assist farmers in selecting the appropriate cover crops for their particular situation the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) has developed the Midwest Cover Crop Decision Tool. This tool is a web-based system to assist farmers in the Midwest in selecting cover crops to include in their row crop operations. The MCCC is a diverse group from academia, production agriculture, non-governmental organizations, commodity interests, private sector, and representatives from federal and state agencies. The MCCC collaborates to promote the use of cover crops to address soil, water, air, and agricultural quality concerns in the Great Lakes and Mississippi river basins. Member states and provinces include Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Manitoba, Ontario, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota.

The Cover Crop Decision Tool is an initiative to consolidate cover crop information by state and to help farmers make cover crop selections at the county level. Information for each state or province is developed by a team of cover crop experts. Ratings contained in the tool are the team consensus based on literature, research results, on-farm experience and practical knowledge. The Cover Crop Decision Tool takes the user through a simple step-by-step process that includes entering your state and county, cash crop information, field information, and cover crop attributes. The tool then selects the covers that most closely match your location and criteria. The user can create an information sheet on the cover crops selected. Management information includes planting, performance and roles, termination, and the advantages and disadvantages of each cover crop selected.

You can learn more about the Midwest Cover Crops Council and access the Cover Crops Decision Tool at http://www.mccc.msu.edu.

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