Do Cover Crops pay? Expanding a Learning Circle for Peer to Peer Cover Crop Promotion Using Economics as a Theme

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2017: $29,355.00
Projected End Date: 02/29/2020
Grant Recipient: Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. James Stute
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn


  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal abstract:

    Our goal is to increase cover crop use on the fragile, droughty soils of southeast Wisconsin. Field studies on four grain farms representing ten site-years of cause-effect data generation will measure the yield impact of various cover crops on subsequent crop yield and the bottom line. Partial budget analysis, factoring in all additional costs and returns will be used to determine the effect on profitability. We will increase the size of our current, small learning circle for peer to peer promotion of cover crops as our primary outreach mechanism to increase adoption. Our current group includes all long- time cover crop users.  The relationship between one of our cooperators (also a crop consultant) and his clients gives us a large audience for our outreach efforts and well as a long-term tracking mechanism for adoption rates.

    Farmers recognize soil health benefits of cover crops, yet are weighing every input purchase in the current market environment and may forego this production expense at the risk of soil and environmental quality. SARE funded work has demonstrated yield benefits to crops which follow covers, we will document and demonstrate them at the local level and provide a financial incentive for adoption.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Document/ demonstrate the economic impact of cover cropping.
    • Expand our peer to peer learning circle to facilitate transfer of cover crop information and expertize leading to increased adoption.
    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.