Increasing rye cover crop adoption through novel, practical, and farmer-driven management practices

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2023: $49,350.00
Projected End Date: 08/15/2025
Grant Recipient: Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Amir Sadeghpour
Southern Illinois University Carbondale


  • Agronomic: corn, rye


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, Nitrogen loss reduction
  • Production Systems: Corn grain production
  • Soil Management: green manures
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    This farmer-driven proposal builds on previously NC SARE funded projects (FNC15-1018; ONC20-078) that evaluated precision planting of cover crops to increase farm resiliency and cover crop adoption prior to planting corn. Our data indicate precision planted rye has similar benefits to solid planting of rye but provides warmer soil temperature in the planting zone and lower seed costs due to skipping the corn row. Furthermore, precision planting increases corn stand count, results in quicker corn germination, and decreases corn nitrogen requirement. Additionally, decreased rye seeding rate prior to corn increases corn stand count that contributes to grain yield. Unfortunately, precision planting lacks adoption due to the required investment. This proposal aims to answer grower questions including (1) does planting rye perpendicular to corn row benefit corn like precision planting? (2) does reducing the seeding rate or increasing row spacing to 15” in perpendicular planting further improve the corn stand count and yield? and (3) what are the economic benefits of these systems? Outreach approaches include hosting on-farm field days, writing a fact sheet being integrated into student’s course material, and presenting at regional/national meeting, this project will increase cover crop adoption before corn and improve sustainability of corn-soybean cropping systems.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objective of this proposal is to compare the effectiveness of perpendicular planting of rye (solid planting) with precision planting (skipping the corn row) and decreasing the rye seeding rate or row spacing (from 7.5” to 15”) in perpendicular planting vs. solid planting and a no-cover crop before corn in a corn-soybean cropping system to:


    • Quantify cover crop performance
    • Assess corn performance and quantify the end of season N following corn harvest
    • Evaluate the economics of each cropping system
    • Demonstrate the agronomic and economic benefits through on-farm research and novel outreach methods
    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.