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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS FOR THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS Title: Cover crop activities in North Dakota

Authors
item Samson-Liebig, Susan -
item Weiser, Hal -
item Alme, Ted -
item Stika, Jon -
item Fuhrer, Jay -
item Gustafson, Brent -
item Liebig, Mark
item Tanaka, Donald

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 21, 2011
Publication Date: October 16, 2011
Citation: Samson-Liebig, S.E., Weiser, H., Alme, T., Stika, J., Fuhrer, J., Gustafson, B., Liebig, M.A., Tanaka, D.L. 2011. Cover crop activities in North Dakota. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. Paper 68295. Available: http://scisoc.confex.com/scisoc/2011am/webprogram/Paper68295.html

Interpretive Summary: Cover crops have been effectively promoted and widely adopted throughout North Dakota. Increased adoption of cover crops has been a driven by concurrent interests to reduce commercial inputs and build soil health in crop, pasture, and grazing lands. Increased soil health is a purported benefit from the use of cover crops, which is critical in addressing resource concerns such as depleted soil fertility, lack of soil biological diversity, increased salinity, and poor water infiltration. Demonstration projects have been initiated throughout North Dakota to evaluate the use of cover crops in cropping and/or grazing systems under conventional and organic management. Compost and compost teas, in conjunction with cover crop cocktails, are also being evaluated to determine their effects on soil health and crop yield. In addition to demonstration projects, researchers are quantifying benefits and drawbacks associated with cover crop use in cropping and grazing systems, as well as developing cover crop decision tools.

Technical Abstract: Cover crops have been shown to benefit agronomic performance and environmental quality within established cropping systems by improving soil quality and erosion control and decreasing losses of nitrogen. These benefits, however, have been documented almost exclusively for cropping systems in humid regions of the U.S. In the semiarid Great Plains, relatively little published information is available to help guide producer decisions on cover crop use. However, adoption of cover crops in this region – and North Dakota in particular – has increased dramatically the last 10 yr. Demonstration projects have been initiated throughout North Dakota to evaluate the use of cover crops in cropping and/or grazing systems under conventional and organic management. Compost and compost teas, in conjunction with cover crop cocktails, are also being evaluated to determine their effects on soil health and crop yield. In addition to demonstration projects, researchers are quantifying benefits and drawbacks associated with cover crop use in cropping and grazing systems, as well as developing cover crop decision tools. Outcomes from current projects throughout North Dakota should facilitate the appropriate incorporation of cover crops in cropping and grazing systems for reducing synthetic fertilizer and pesticide inputs, improving profitability and economic stability, increasing the availability of high quality livestock forage, improving soil water availability, mitigating soil salinity, and enhancing soil quality.

Last Modified: 12/27/2014
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