Cover Crop Selection and Use in Organic No-Till Farming

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $155,730.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Patrick Carr
Montana State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, flax, rye, soybeans, wheat


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Energy: energy use
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, cultural control, row covers (for pests), smother crops, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil microbiology, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Concern about the negative consequences of tillage has stimulated interest in adopting no-till practices when growing field crops managed organically. Strategies for using cover crops to eliminate tillage in corn, soybean, wheat, and other important agronomic crops grown under certified organic conditions in the north central region will be developed in this project. Spring-, summer-, and fall-seeded, cover crop treatments will be compared for biomass and weed suppression across four states (IA, MN, ND, and WI). Farmer-researcher teams will identify no-till methods for killing cover crops consistently and economically. The impact of cover crops on yield, economics, nutrient cycling, pests, and soil quality will be determined.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our overall objective is to develop management recommendations for killing cover crops consistently but without tillage for weed suppression in organic crop-production systems in the north-central region. Adoption of the management recommendations generated by this project will occur on at least one commercial organic farm in each of four states (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin) by 2012. Results of this project will be used to generate new knowledge among at least 10 extension service educators and USDA-NRCS personnel in each state on organic zero-till (OZ) methods. Scientific credibility of OZ methods will occur as project results are published in at least two refereed journals by 2013.

    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.