Missouri agricultural scientists working in cover crops share in a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They will work with colleagues in 30 organizations across the country and around the world.
“The five-year project aims to increase crop profitability and sustainability using cover crops and reduced tillage,” says Rob Myers, University of Missouri Extension cover crop specialist. “The work will be aimed at farmers using cover crops on corn, soybeans and cotton.”
Cover crops slow soil erosion, aid soil health and help control pests, weeds and diseases. They also aid water quality and add crop diversity. Used with reduced tillage, cover crops speed the addition of soil carbon, Myers says. All allow climate-resilient production of food and fiber.
Joining Myers on the MU team are Ray Massey, economist; Kerry Clark, director of international programs for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and Charles Ellis, field specialist in agricultural engineering. They will do an economic analysis on project data from across the country and conduct on-farm cover crop research.
Alan Weber of MARC-IV, a crop consulting firm headquartered in Missouri, will work with the MU team.
The grant backs university, nonprofit and federal researchers with expertise in crop management, systems modeling, social science and technology transfer.
Missouri farmers doubled their use of cover crops from 2012 to 2017, Myers says.
The grant title is “Enhancing the Sustainability of U.S. Cropping Systems Through Cover Crops and an Innovative Information and Technology Network.”
The project is led by Chris Reberg-Horton of North Carolina State University and Steven Mirsky of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Other scientists join from Canada and Denmark.
MU Extension specialists will share results in Missouri. All are part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
The University of Missouri contributed this article.