Refining the potential for interseeding cover crops in corn

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2012: $14,703.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Dr. Gregory Roth
Penn State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, grass (misc. perennial), hay


  • Animal Production: winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till, relay cropping, conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: competition, mulches - living, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will focus on the evaluation of cover crop establishment in corn in areas where the short season make it difficult to establish cover crops. This project involves three farms in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, where many cornfields go through the winter with little vegetative cover. The project utilizes a newly developed Penn State Cover Crop Interseeder and Applicator that can be used to interseed a cover crop during early June while sidedressing and applying a postemergent herbicide. The project will build on successful experiences with the interseeder in 2010 and 2011 and seek to improve the consistency of success with use of a novel seed treatment and slightly earlier seeding dates than have been used in the past. If the system can be demonstrated to be a reasonably consistent method of establishing cover crops that don’t compete with the corn and provide other benefits, then it could be an important part of improving the sustainability in the region. The development of this method of seeding comes at a time when there is a critical need and increasing interest in cover crops. There is continued concern about nitrate leaching and phosphorus runoff in the region. There is also a need to intensify crop rotations to provide more on farm forage for livestock farms. The result of this project and the associated outreach component could be an important step in dramatically increasing the use of cover crops in corn in our region.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives of this study will be to 1) evaluate the potential of the interseeder in three environments where cover crop establishment is difficult following corn for grain (Centre Co.) or silage (Bradford Co.), 2) evaluate the potential for ryegrass and ryegrass clover mixtures for nutrient uptake and sequestration, 3) evaluate the potential for the cover crops to be a fall forage crop for grazing 4) evaluate the potential of a seed treatment for improving seed establishment under difficult conditions and 5) generate on farm data to convince corn producers of the utility of this practice. This data will be used to build on some of the successes we have acheived during the last two years

    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.