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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Research Project #440849

Research Project: Researching and Developing Cover Cropping in Midwestern Agricultural Systems

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Project Number: 5090-21500-002-007-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2023

Objective 1. Perform cover crop research trials in organic and conventional dairy, grain, and vegetable production systems. Objective 2. Document and predict cover crop efficacy and the impact on profitability in the North Central U.S. Objective 3. Conduct participatory research, engagement and outreach to stakeholders around the state about cover cropping and research findings. Objective 4. Produce written and electronic outreach materials on cover crops and the importance of water quality for distribution to farmers, agency personnel, agricultural educators, and crop consultants.

Cover crop research trials will be conducted in organic and conventional dairy, grain, and vegetable production systems to understand the combined effects of reduced tillage, living cover (e.g. cover crops), and livestock integration in common Midwestern organic and non-organic cash-grain rotations. Intensifed use of cover crops and reducing tillage in organic grain rotation will be evaluated for their impact on soil health, crop yield, and weed suppression. Collection of additional data and curation of a Wisconsin cover crop database will be implemented to improve regional understanding of cover crop production and derived ecosystem services. SnapPlus, SmartScape, and Agro-IBIS models will be calibrated and validated to improve our predictions of ecosystem services such as clean water, stable climate, and biodiversity. Using insights gained from data alignment, make cover crop data available and relevant to farmers. A participatory economic modeling effort of cover cropping in dairy systems will be finalized. Outreach and participatory efforts will continue to be central to on-farm research and citizen science research. Farmer experiences with cover crop-based no-till, and barriers to adoption will help inform outreach efforts to facilitate cover crop adoption. Components will be developed for cover crop conferences in 2022; farmer-friendly outreach materials about cover crops research throughout the state will be generated; and final reports video and other media products will be developed to represent the last five years of collaborative research. This work will be performed in collaboration with the other project partners.