Other cover crop research projects supported by SARE include:

  • A 2003 project involving University of Maryland researchers and farmers showed that forage radish can capture and hold up to 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre that remains in the soil after fall harvest. This work also helped lead to the widespread adoption of forage radish as a powerful method for alleviating soil compaction.
  • In 2008, an Ohio State University graduate student found compelling evidence of cover crops’ role in protecting soil from erosion, and water from nutrient leaching. During simulated rainstorms, cover crops and no-till in a corn-soybean rotation nearly eliminated runoff loss of soluble nitrogen and phosphorous.
  • An ongoing project at North Carolina State University is finding evidence that the termination method for leguminous cover crops affects how much nitrogen is made available to the subsequent cash crop. Roll-killed hairy vetch provided more available nitrogen six weeks after termination than other combinations of legumes and kill methods, including herbicides, flail mowing and tilling.

SARE researchers say while most grants over the last 25 years have focused on vegetable farming projects, many of the same principles employed by cover crops in vegetable production apply to commodity crops as well. They suggest that in a world where technology leads the way in providing new methods for modern agriculture, producers would do well to look to historical methods of sustainable agriculture in addressing age old problems facing growers in the modern world.