Linda Geist

TROY, Mo. – Row crop farmers have a Cover Crop Decision Tool to help them decide which cover crop will work best on their farms for potential fall/winter grazing.

The free online tool simplifies decision-making and reduce risks for those wanting to plant cover crops, says University of Missouri Extension specialist Charles Ellis.

The Cover Crop Decision Tool is an initiative of the Midwest Cover Crops Council. Ellis serves on the council’s board of directors.

Find the tool at

“Cover crops are a useful conservation practice for improving soil health, scavenging and recycling nutrients, reducing erosion and contributing to more resilient cropping systems over the long term while potentially providing fall/winter grazing,” says Ellis.

The tool’s pull-down menu lets row crop farmers and crop advisers consider their goals in planting cover crops. They then input specific information, including crop rotation, soil type and drainage. The tool then lists cover crops and seeding periods for reliable establishment. It also notes if the crop is suitable for frost seeding.

The Midwest Cover Crops Council developed the tool to consolidate cover crop information by state and county. University researchers, extension educators, Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel, agriculture department personnel, crop advisers, seed suppliers and farmers from numerous states and Canada contributed to the project.

The council’s website gives simple “recipes” for first-time cover crop adopters. These recipes provide simple, low-risk strategies to integrate cover crops into a corn-soybean rotation. The recipes include details on the specific crops, seeding rates and dates and termination guidance.

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