Cover crops need to be managed as a crop

An extension educator says cover crops should not be thought of as a standalone fertilizer replacement.

Michigan State University’s Christina Curell tells Brownfield cover crops also need good management to be successful.

“Remember, a cover crop is a CROP—it needs fertilizer,” she says.  “It may not decrease the actual nutrients that you put on the farm because you might have to put out nutrients for your crops,” she says.

Curell says farmers typically incorporate cover crops to protect water resources and enhance soil health, but carbon sequestration programs can bring additional profitability.  When considering participating in carbon programs, she recommends asking…

“What cover crops should I use and how much carbon is that sequestering?”  “I wish I had numbers for you but we don’t know, we’re still learning a lot of that information,” she says.

She cautions farmers to get legal advice on any potential contracts as the market is still developing.

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