It was a cold, grey day to be counting bugs. Still, that's what they were doing moving across a field of cereal rye from one trap to the next.

It's all part of the work Illinois Extension Entomologist Nick Seiter is doing with cover crops.

“What we are looking at is insect populations out here. And so, before planting we are sampling, primarily for beneficial insects; ground beetles, spiders which are not insects but are beneficial, and we are also looking at some pests such as slugs. We are looking at what effect the termination of the rye has on insects and on pest management.”

Once the field is planted to corn, Seiter says he'll turn his attention to how the insects are damaging the crop. The point is to see if the termination timing of the rye is correlated in any way to the insect damage in the corn.

“So, ultimately what we are trying to do is to develop management recommendations for farmers, to determine if termination timing is going to have an effect on pest management. And, if it does, how they can mitigate it, how they can plan for that, and what they need to be on the lookout for when they are planting corn following a rye cover crop.

This particular cover crop research is funded in part by Illinois NREC. The Nutrient Research Education Council was created by state statute in 2012 and funded by a 75-cent per ton assessment on bulk fertilizer.