Study shows cover crops reduce nitrate loss in tile drainage

Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca, MN.

A new study shows cover crops are effective in reducing nitrate loss through tile drainage.

University of Minnesota researcher Jeff Vetsch says the project began in 2016 with cover crops seeded into standing corn and soybeans.

“In 2017, our first corn year, we saw the cereal rye cover crop if seeded in the fall and left till spring to about 10 days before planting and then terminated, produced a significant reduction in nitrate concentration and load from those plots.”

He tells Brownfield the reduction was 60 percent reduction compared to no cover crop.

With two more years left on the study funded in part by the Minnesota Corn Growers, Vetsch calls cover crops a proven and effective tool to help reduce nitrates leaving fields.

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