Cropping systems research at the SWROC focuses on sustainable production with emphasis on site-specific management, primarily in the corn-soybean rotation. Cover crops, water, and nitrogen use are some of the research topics to address critical issues in Minnesota cropping systems and the environment.
Our goal is to determine if the use of novel crops and cover crops will allow Minnesota’s cropping systems to intensify to more sustainable and profitable production levels. To do so, we use a combination of field-based research and crop modeling. Our current projects investigate:
- Diversification of corn-soybean production systems
- Cover crops use in Minnesota crop production systems
- Biophysical processes affecting innovations in corn-soybean rotation
Midwest Cover Crop Council’s Cover Crop Decision Tool
There are a lot of questions when you decide to plant a cover crop. As with a cash crop, you need to determine what species and variety to plant, when to plant, and what seeding rate to use. Recommendations for these practices depend on a farmer’s cropping system and goals and change with grower experience and peer reviewed research. The Midwest Cover Crop Council’s Cover Crop Decision Tool utilizes research-based information and grower experience to guide farmers planning to seed a cover crop.
Minnesota Cover Crop Recipes
These recipes are intended to provide step-by-step guidance to some of the lowest-risk starting points for cover crops. They don’t cover the whole spectrum of possibilities, but they can help beginners get most pieces in place to incorporate cover crops into a farm operation. The two recipes were developed to address Minnesota’s most common crop cropping system, the corn/soybean rotation.
In addition to protecting soil from erosion and building soil organic matter, cover crops can take up excess nitrate left after a cash crop, reducing nitrogen loads in surface or groundwater.