Enhancing Soil Health with Cover Crops in North Dakota: Training Program

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $71,012.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Grant Recipient: North Dakota State University
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Marisol Berti
North Dakota State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: clovers, corn, radish (oilseed, daikon, forage), soybeans, wheat


  • Crop Production: catch crops, conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, double cropping, no-till
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Research in cover crops management practices and soil health benefits has been going on for at least the last five years in North Dakota.  Research plots and a few on-farm research trials initiatives have generated interesting information but cover crop adoption is been very slow.  It is our goal to bring to county agents and farmers the knowledge acquired by NDSU researchers. Our proposal has the two main components of a successful educational project: 1) Good and complete local information collected in the field through replicated trials and on-farm experiences and out of state workshops and conferences, and 2) farmers in the Red River Valley (RRV) eager to learn about cover crops management and benefits. Adopting cover crops in the RRV is not easy because most of the area is planted to corn and soybean in no-till and both crops are harvested too late in the season to plant a cover crop.  Our target audience will be farmers mainly from SE North Dakota but not limited to that area.  We propose to train county extension agents and farmers about management and benefits of cover crops. We seek an increase in adoption and the integration of cover crops into existing cropping systems to increase resiliency. As a result of this project, at least 10 county agents and 70 farmers in North Dakota will learn about cover crops and soil health in several activities. Incorporating cover crops in their practices will have a tremendous impact in soil health and other ecosystem services.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The use of cover crops, common in the East and central Corn Belt, are uncommon in corn-soybean systems in North Dakota. Intensive management practices that include fall tillage to optimize yields have led to serious soil erosion problems. Researchers in North Dakota have collected valuable information about cover crops management and performance, but there is a need to transfer this knowledge to county agents and producers which is the aim of this project.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.