Nebraska Cover Crop Selector Tool Now Available

A field of cover crops
Figure 1. Selecting the right cover crop for your operation depends on your goals. The Nebraska Crop Crop Selector Tool can help you sort potential crops according to the attributes you're seeking. (Photo by Gary Lesoing)

Nebraska Cover Crop Selector Tool Now Available May 13, 2019

Cover crop selector tool
Figure 2. Screen shot from the Nebraska Cover Crop Selection Tool.

An online Cover Crop Selector Tool is now available for Nebraska, thanks to work by the Midwest Cover Crops Council and representatives of Nebraska Extension, the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS), and the cover crop industry in Nebraska. The new Cover Crop Selector Tool (Figure 2) is available on the Midwest Cover Crops Council website.

Users can plug in the top three attributes they’re seeking in a cover crop and the tool will provide a 1-4 rating of those attributes for individual cover crops and/or cover crop mixes. The tool rates such attributes as:  nitrogen source, nitrogen scavenger, soil building, erosion fighter, weed fighter, good grazing, quick growth, lasting residue, and winter survivability. The user can then click on the individual cover crop description and learn specific information, such as planting rates and timing, termination methods and timing, and advantages and disadvantages of the cover crop.

With the information provided, users can determine the cover crops best suited to their purpose. The Nebraska site includes 47 cover crops and six mixes.

The development of this tool was led by Dean Baas, sustainable agriculture educator at Michigan State University, and Anna Morrow of Purdue University, Midwest Cover Crops Council program manager. They worked with over 20 team members from Nebraska. Baas has led most of the states within the Midwest Cover Crops Council through this process to develop a cover crop selector tool. Selection tools are also available for Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin as well as the province of Ontario.

Nebraska Extension has been a member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council for five years. Gary Lesoing, extension educator and Nebraska State SARE Coordinator, represents Nebraska on the Board of Directors. The Midwest Cover Crops Council has a number of excellent resources, including the “Midwest Cover Crop Field Guide,” a cover crop pocket guide used by many farmers in Nebraska and across the Midwest.

This summer Nebraska Extension plans to release several cover crop recipes for beginning cover crop growers. These resources help guide a new grower through cover crop planning and preparation, fall work, spring work, and adjustments under various conditions and production systems.