Agronomic Interactions

Cover crops work as one element within the whole agronomic system to support crop production. Learn how they generate synergy with system elements like fertility and tillage. These resources will also help you consider how cover crops interact with other factors, like residual herbicides, which may require more attention to detail or subtle adjustments.

Find out how cover crops influence nutrient availability and soil fertility. They can keep nutrients in place for the next cast crop. Deep roots can pull nutrients into the cash crop root zone. Learn how they also help build soil characteristics that increase soil nutrient-holding capacity and plant availability.

Residual herbicides are critical tools for in-season weed management, especially for herbicide-resistant weeds. However, the activity of those herbicides could impact cover crop establishment, depending on the persistence of the active ingredients and the timing of cover crop seeding. Explore these links to understand susceptibility of specific cover crops species to residuals used in the previous cash crop and to see what adjustments can minimize this issue.

From no-till to full seedbed preparation, cover crops can work with any tillage system to support soil health. They can also ease the transition between types of tillage. Dig in to discover the synergies between cover crops and different tillage practices.

Termination Options

Weigh the pros and cons of chemical, mechanical and natural, or winterkill, to decide which cover crop termination option fits your fields. These resources help you consider spring weather patterns and other factors when planning termination method and timing. Find out how recommendations change depending on factors like species and management goals.

Planting and Managing Cash Crops

Spring planting adjustments with cover crops in a field link closely to termination method and timing. Learn more about adjusting equipment or timing to focus on ensuring strong seed-to-soil contact and managing cover crop biomass above ground. Explore the benefits and challenges of planting into dried cover crop residue compared to “planting green,” or planting the cash crop into the cover crop before termination.

Pest and Weed Suppression

As part of the overall agronomic system, cover crops play a part in integrated pest management. They interact with all types of pests. Some species can help break pest cycles, while others can have allelopathic impacts. Though they may harbor or host crop-damaging pests, they also can support beneficial insects and predators that may keep levels of problem pests below economic treatment thresholds. Check out how cover crops may interact with common problems in your fields.

Cover crop use often leads to soils that suppress plant diseases, attributed to a variety of factors. Learn more about how some cover crop species release compounds known to be toxic to soil-borne pathogens, while other species contribute to favorable environments for soil microbes or other fungi that suppress problem diseases. Find out what cover crops might break a host cycle for specific disease problems or what common diseases could be supported by your chosen cover crop species.

Cover crops tend to attract insects, spiders and other beneficial predators that feed on crop pests. See how they provide shelter to those natural enemies, often boosting populations over time. These resources also explore how cover crops can attract insects that feed on the cash crop, that insecticides often control both beneficial and problem insects, and the value of checking for threshold insect levels before treating.

Soils contain a wide variety of nematodes species, but plant-parasitic nematodes receive the most attention for their potential to feed on cash crop roots and reduce yields. Research shared here is exploring the potential for cover crop species to impact management of those nematodes by suppressing populations by producing compounds that control nematodes, serving as a trap crop or encouraging egg hatch when no host is present. However, some cover crops may host specific problem nematodes.

Cover crops create the cool, moist environment along the soil surface that slugs favor. The pest also thrives in no-till conditions. Find out how cover crops can also harbor predators of slugs, supporting an integrated pest management strategy. Check out resources to learn how field history and expected planting conditions could influence management decisions to minimize slug pressure and the potential effectiveness of fostering the environment for predators.

The above-ground biomass cover crops generate becomes residue that can suppress weed emergence. Other cover crops release compounds that suppress certain weeds, causing an allelopathic effect. With herbicide-resistant weeds challenging farmers, see how cover crops can serve as another weed management tool in the toolbox.