Overcoming Cover Crop Establishment Challenges

Cover crop use continues to increase as farmers realize the many benefits cover crops contribute to the soil and their cropping systems. Researchers are beginning to document that cover crops can increase profitability through increased yields, reduced fertilizer costs and reduced weed management costs. Planting cover crops help retain nutrients that might leave the field by runoff, leaching or wind erosion, making those nutrients available for the next crop. Keeping the soil covered with cover crops as many months per year as possible in a cropping rotation can reduce nutrient runoff and any associated water quality issues related to sediment and nutrients leaving the field.

There are number of challenges using cover crops for even the most experienced cover crop users. Reliable establishment and species selection are often listed and the primary challenges most farmers face incorporating cover crops into their cropping systems. To help farmers address these challenges, an Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day is planned for Oct. 21, 2015, in St Joseph County at the Larry Walton Farm in Nottawa, Michigan. The program begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m. with lunch provided. There is no cost for attending this field day.

The Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day will be an opportunity for participants to learn the benefits of early established cover crops and the alternative methods for interseeding cover crops in standing corn including aerial, highboy and early season inter-seeding. There will be demonstrations of a Hagie Highboy Seeder and the Penn State Inter-seeder. Participants will also be able to view 12 different cover crop plots and learn more from a soil root pit.

To facilitate participants that wish to attend, two buses will be provided at no cost. One will be departing from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and the second from Clio, Michigan, with a number of pickup stops in route to the field day. Pickup locations are indicated in the field day brochure. Participants that wish to ride a bus can indicate their preferred bus and pickup location at registration.

If you are interested in registering for the field day, visit the Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day Event page. For more information, please contact Tamy Applewhite at 231-745-2732 or

The Interseeding Cover Crops Field Day is sponsored by Monsanto, Van Buren Conservation District and Michigan State University Extension.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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