Insecticide use in cover crops: Understanding impacts at a field scale

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $39,906.00
Projected End Date: 06/01/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Justin McMechan, Ph.D., D.P.H.
University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center


  • Agronomic: corn


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management

    Proposal abstract:

    The use of cover crops has increased as a sustainable means of improving soil health and suppressing weeds in agricultural systems. However, recent reports have shown a potential risk of insect pests transitioning from cover crops to corn in the Midwest due to the timing of cover crop termination relative to corn planting. Unexpected losses from insect pests in cover crop systems have resulted in some farmers adopting the use of tank-mixed insecticides at cover crop termination as a preventative strategy to minimize pest pressure. To date, there is not enough information to help farmers make an informed decision on if and when they should use insecticides in a cover crop-corn system. This project seeks to form collaborations with four corn-soybean farmers in eastern-Nebraska, two of which collaborated on a previously funded NC-SARE graduate student grant. To address insecticide use in cover crop systems, large plot research will be conducted on-farm studies with the objective to evaluate the use of insecticides as a tank-mix or delayed application around cover crop termination impact on pest and beneficial insects. The results from this research would serve as a cornerstone for best management practices with insecticides in a cover crop to corn systems.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives of this project will be to; 1) evaluate the impact of insecticide application timing as a tank mix with herbicides and delayed on pest and beneficial arthropods, 2) determine the potential risk for insect pests and beneficial insect activity to assist farmers in making profitable and sustainable decisions, and 3) share research results with farmers, extension professionals, researchers, and students through field days, presentations, and peer-reviewed publications.

    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.