Cover crop selection tool upgraded

An online cover crop selection tool for Midwest agricultural producers has been improved and expanded.

Sorghum sudangrass-millet mixes are popular cover crop options for cattle producers. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

Cover crops are drawing increasing attention in Upper Midwest agriculture. Now, an updated online tool can help farmers make better decisions with their cover crops, ones grown to suppress weeds, control pests and disease, and build productive soil, rather than for sale.

The Midwest Cover Crops Council, which consists of representatives from 12 states and the province of Ontario, offers a selection tool that can assist agricultural producers to meet the goals they have for cover crops. These include controlling erosion, scavenging nitrogen, fighting weeds, providing forage and more.

The selection tool — available at — also has information about the cash crops that farmers are planting and drainage data for their fields.

"This gives good information about the species that will fit each user’s unique situation — their rotations, time frames and goals,” said Anna Morrow, program manager for the cover crops council and a member of Purdue University's Department of Agriculture. “We’ve been able to give users a visual way to take in and process that information.”

“This tool is good for farmers who want to get started with or are currently using cover crops and need to get reliable, current information to help them make the best decisions for their operations," she said.


The tool has updated data for Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario. North Dakota and South Dakota, which were not part of the original tool, have been added. Information for the other four states represented in the Midwest Cover Cops Council — Indiana, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska — recently was updated or added to the tool and will be updated again over the next two years.

The updated tool includes more accurate seeding dates for each county based on 30-year National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration frost date data; changes to seeding dates and rates to align with new research; and is now mobile-friendly and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the cover crops council.

The updates were funded by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and Grain Farmers of Ontario.

The cover crops councils will host a live, one-hour webinar at 11 a.m. Central Sept. 23 to demonstrate the new tool and answer questions. To register:

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