The Blesh Soil & Agroecosystems Lab at the University of Michigan is partnering with Great Lakes farmers to better understand variation in cover crop performance across different growing conditions.

Researchers are recruiting for another season of data collection! If you have overwintering cover crops growing for spring 2023 and would like to participate, CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

In the Great Lakes region, overwintering cover crops can provide numerous agro-ecological benefits, such as soil conservation and nutrient cycling, weed and pest control, and climate resilience. However, these benefits largely depend on the successful growth of cover crops, which can be highly variable across farms due to a range of environmental factors and management practices (e.g., soil type, planting strategies) that influence cover crop establishment and growth in distinct conditions.

This project will use a citizen science approach to improve understanding of cover crop performance across variable conditions and, in turn, help farmers better achieve the benefits they can provide. Specifically, we will partner with Great Lakes farmers to identify: i) the extent of variation in cover crop growth across the region, and ii) which environmental and management factors best explain this variation.

By sharing information about their farms and management practices in a short online survey, and conducting a brief field sampling protocol to estimate cover crop growth, farmers will serve as key collaborators in a data-driven effort to improve cover crop outcomes. Results from this project will inform context-specific recommendations for optimal cover crop management across different farming conditions. This community-based research links academic and practitioner knowledge to advance food system sustainability and resilience. 

For more information about the study, contact

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