Are you a farmer about to harvest this year’s soybean crop? If so, now is a good time to start considering putting in some cover crops!

Without cover crops, harvesting soybeans usually means the soil surface in your field will be left exposed until the next crop is planted and established. This leads to loss of soil due to wind and runoff from rain and snowmelt. Cereal rye cover crops can be used to protect soils between soybean and the planting of corn the following year.

In addition, they provide several benefits to soil health by preventing erosion, conserving moisture, adding organic carbon, preventing weeds and reducing compaction. They also save you money, and in their first year reduce costs by reducing the need for inputs like herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer.

Not to mention, cover crops help protect nearby water quality by preventing soil and nutrients leaving your farm.

If you’re interested in cover crops but feel overwhelmed about getting started because there are too many choices and steps, we have a set of simple instructions to help you get started. 

In collaboration with the Midwest Cover Crops Council, Michigan State University Extension has put together instructions for new or inexperienced cover crop users. These recipes are intended to provide a relatively simple, low-risk strategy for integrating cover crops into typical cropping systems in Michigan. The recipes include details on the specific cover crops, seeding rates and dates, and termination guidance and should be useful to both the producer and the crop advisor with limited cover crop experience.