With the use of cover crops becoming more prominent, a group of Iowa State University researchers has created a publication to answer common producer questions about their use.

Former Iowa State graduate students Andrea Basche and Gabrielle Roesch-McNally and current undergraduate student Rebecca Clay, under the guidance of associate professor Fernando Miguez,  wrote the publication "Answering Common Producer Questions on Cover Crop Use in Iowa" (HORT 3053).

The authors combined existing scientific research and information gathered during focus group discussions with Iowa farmers to complete the publication. There is already a great deal of research that has been done on cover crops - from extensive on-farm trials to long-term government and university research - across Iowa and the Midwest. The authors wanted to provide a short resource to aggregate this research in response to producer questions on cover crop management and costs, specifically those growing corn and soybeans.

The publication asks a series of questions, using research and input from farmers who use cover crops to provide fact-based answers to those questions.

The questions answered in the publication include: how do cover crops impact corn yield; what are other cover crop plant species options for Iowa; how do cover crops influence nitrogen rate and timing for the following cash crop; and how does a cover crop affect my bottom line?

“The topics addressed in this publication were questions that producers continually raised during our focus group discussions,” said Basche. “There is a desire to understand how cover crops impact corn yield, how to manage nitrogen following a cover crop, how species beyond cereal rye perform in Iowa as well as what information exists on the economic value of soil.”

The publication is available at the ISU Extension Online Store,