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Improved Tool Can Help Hoosier Farmers Develop Cover-Crop Strategy

Rye is a popular cover crop in Indiana. (AdobeStock)
Rye is a popular cover crop in Indiana. (AdobeStock)
September 17, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS -- Harvest season is getting into full swing in Indiana, and many farmers are already thinking about how to prep their land for next year.

Planting cover crops has become a popular way to improve soil health, and growers can get some help figuring out their best options.

Anna Morrow, program manager for the Midwest Cover Crops Council, said its web-based Cover Crop Decision Tool has been revamped, and offers farmers personalized results depending on the details submitted.

"It's not a tool where you enter in all the information and you hit submit and you get one result back," Morrow said. "It's really interactive, and you can kind of play with it and see how changing your goals or changing your county impacts the different results that come through."

According to state data, corn and soybean cover-crop acres in Indiana increased by 434% between 2011 and 2018.

The Midwest Cover Crops Council is hosting a webinar next Wednesday to provide an in-depth look at the revised decision tool, and to answer any questions.

Morrow said one of the biggest obstacles with growing cover crops is knowing what species can be planted later in the fall.

She said the tool provides visual suggestions about what will work.

"We're pulling 30 years of climate data specific to your county," Morrow said. "And so you'll see if you go across different states or from north to south within a state, those seeding periods will shift based on that climate data in the background."

Morrow said they've received a lot of positive feedback on the tool, which she noted are especially beneficial for those just getting started with cover crops.

In 2019, some 950,000 acres of cover crops were planted in Indiana. The tool offers information for growers in 11 other states besides Indiana.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN