Cover Crops Provide Greatest Nitrogen Cost Efficiency Per Pound

Cover Crop ( Sonja Begemann )

Nitrate runoff is top-of-mind for many farmers as they make plans for 2019 nitrogen applications. Not only does runoff negatively impact the environment, it takes dollars out of already thin margins.

“A variety of agricultural conservation practices are available to reduce the amount of nitrogen leaving fields and travelling downstream,” said Laura Christianson, Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois, in a recent press release. “The practices are generally grouped into three categories: Management practices that can be done in-field, structural practices that can be built at the edge of a field and land use changes.”

While there are many options, each will need to be catered to individual farms and management styles. Research conducted at the University of Illinois examined common nutrient loss reduction practices for efficacy in terms of “percent of effectiveness.”

In addition to showing how effective the practices are at reducing nutrient runoff, researchers indicate cost efficacy as well. The biggest cost efficiency in dollars per pound of nitrogen saved is when cover crops are used on all non-tiled acres.

Check out the study results here:

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