New Book Helps Farmers Reap Cover Crop Benefits
BELTSVILLE, Md. -- To help farmers boost their bottom line while
enhancing the environment, a new book from USDA's Sustainable
Agriculture Network (SAN) greatly expands field-ready information on
cover crop species and practices proven to build soil and provide a host
of agronomic benefits.
The 212-page Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 2nd Edition features
information gleaned from the latest cover crop field trials, lab tests
and on-farm experiences from every region of the U.S. It includes
management details such as seeding rates and best killing methods, as
well as broader considerations of how to design rotations to maximize
benefits. Comprehensive chapters on the 18 most promising cover crop
species, fact-filled charts and lists of seed suppliers, expert contacts
and other relevant publications make the fully indexed guide invaluable
for both newcomers and cover crop veterans.
"If you're like most farmers," says Rich De Wilde, a vegetable grower
from Viroqua, Wis., "you probably think you're too busy for cover crops.
My advice: Just do it. Discover how cover crops hold and improve your
soil and how they suppress weeds and deter pests. Cover crops make a big
difference on my farm."
Range maps for the 18 cover crops help farmers zero in on which ones are
best suited for their region. They then can turn to chapters on each
species that detail the unique role each cover crop can play. Each
chapter provides specific management information about soil preferences,
seeding rates, field operations, managing and planting into residue, and
cover crop mixtures with other species.
The new book also features four comprehensive charts that make it easy to
compare cover crop species. This section provides recommendations for
the best cover crops in 14 bioregions and details 55 factors for each
cover describing its benefits, roles, traits and management.
Chapters focus on easy ways to get started with cover crops, economics,
nitrogen crediting, soil building and developing cover crop-based
The first edition was published in 1992 during a resurgence of interest
in cover crops. But it also raised new questions in the minds of farmers
and researchers. What species are best for arid conditions? What is the
best way to calculate nitrogen contributions from cover crops? How can
farmers use cover crops in no-till systems? How can farmers best reap
multiple benefits from a single cover crop species or mixture?
"The book helps answer these questions and provides practical
alternatives for farmers looking for more profitable and environmentally
sound ways to farm," says Jill S. Auburn, national director of the
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. "It is a
comprehensive resource on how cover crops build healthy, fertile soil and
suppress weeds, insects and disease." SARE, a program of the USDA's
Cooperative State Research, Education & Extension Service, provided funds
to SAN to develop this book.
To order Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 2nd Edition, send $19 to
Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, University of
Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0082. Visit the SAN/SARE web site at
http://www.sare.org or contact Andy Clark for more information about SAN.
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