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Cover Crop Monsters -- On the Go Lesson
For this activity you will create a cover crop monster, which will help you see how quickly grasses germinate and provide ground cover.

These To Go Lessons can be used to create a "grab and go" style activity with supplies included. Add your local contact information, print, and cut each sheet in half. The left side can be used on the outside of the paper bag or box to identify the activity, and the right side can be placed in the package as an instruction sheet.

Coordinator Tip: We recommend 1 teaspoon of seed and approximately 1 cup of soil per kit. You can adjust this based on the number of kits you need and the containers you are able to source.

Youth-serving organizations in Iowa are encouraged to contact their local Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office to explore partnership opportunities in administering this program.
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Farmer Experiences with Fall Grazing Cover Crops
Establishing cover crops following grain production is a proven tool to protect soil, reduce erosion, improve water quality and enhance soil quality, as well as forage for livestock. Little research has focused on using cover crops for fall feed, however. This publication provides information from producers across Iowa who have fall grazed cover crops for two or more years and shares their experiences.
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Post Corn Silage, Going to Corn: Use Cereal Rye
This publication is intended to provide a starting point for farmers who are new to cover crops. With experience, farmers may fine-tune the use of cover crops for their systems.
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Post Corn Silage, Going to Soybean: Use Cereal Rye
This publication is intended to provide a starting point for farmers who are new to cover crops. With experience, farmers may fine-tune the use of cover crops for their systems.
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Whole Farm Conservation Best Practices Manual
Improving water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat while remaining productive and profitable is the focus of many conservation efforts in Iowa. Confidence in practice selection and management is essential for implementing conservation practices. This publication provides best management recommendations for farmers and landowners getting started with conservation and water quality practices by helping select and incorporate in-field and edge-of-field conservation practices most appropriate to the decision maker's land and preferences.
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Post Corn, Going to Soybean: Use Cereal Rye
This publication is intended to provide a starting point for farmers who are new to cover crops. It provides information on integrating cereal rye into a corn-soybean rotation.
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Post Soybean, Going to Corn: Use Oats
This publication is intended to provide a starting point for farmers who are new to cover crops. It provides information on integrating oats into a corn-soybean rotation.
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Green Gram and Black Gram: Small Grain Legume Crops for the Midwestern United States
Introducing new specialty crops that complement corn, soybean and cover crops can help improve soil health and provide enhanced long-term productivity and profitability. Green gram and black gram are examples of these specialty crops that are being tested at Iowa State University. This publication provides information on the crop themselves, as well as current Iowa State research.
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Managing Cattle Health Issues When Grazing Cover Crops
Cover crops can offer excellent feed value when properly incorporated into beef cattle diets. However, common cover crop species sometimes pose potential health issues.

This publication looks at small grains; brassicas; sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass and sudangrass; and legumes to provide common health issues that can be found when using those types of feed and provides tips for grazing beef cattle.
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Grazing Opportunities with Cereal Rye
Cereal rye is commonly used in cow-calf production to extend the grazing season, provide early spring forage or as an emergency area for spring calving during inclement weather. This publication sets out best management practices for successfully grazing cereal rye.
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Climate and Managing Corn-Soybean Agroecosystems, Vol. 2 of 5
It is critical, given an increasingly variable climate and occurrence of extreme weather events, to develop and test management approaches that increase the adaptive capacity of corn-based agriculture, and equip farmers and land managers to be functionally resilient.The findings, implications and recommendations in this report represent research conducted over the last five years (2011-2016) and is focused on improving understanding of the complex interactions among weather-climate, water cycles, nitrogen, soil carbon, and human-social systems of corn-based systems. This work reflects experimentation and assessments of in-field management practices, such as drainage, tillage, cover crops, extended rotations, and nitrogen sensing to determine how farmers can better utilize these practices to meet crop productivity and environmental goals under increasingly variable weather.
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Herbicide use may restrict grazing options for cover crops
Interest in cover crops has dramatically increased due to their many potential benefits. In addition to conservation purposes, cover crops can provide forage for livestock producers. It is important for livestock producers to consider restrictions on labels of herbicides used earlier in the growing season if they intend to use the cover crop as a forage source.
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Cover Crops Do's and Don't's
This publication addresses the facts and myths related to weed, insect, and disease management when using cover crops. This publication was created by the Crop Protection Network, which includes authors from land-grant universities across the North Central Region and Ontario.  CSI

Available from the Crop Protection Network.
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Crop Rotations, Composting and Cover Crops for Organic Vegetable Production
Organic production and consumption has increased to a $39.5 billion industry in the United States with over 22,000 organic farmers. Over 5.4 million acres are in organic production in the U.S., including 164,403 acres of organic vegetables, valued at $1.3 billion. The majority of organic vegetable growers incorporate crop rotations, composting, and cover crops in their operations. The following information offers a guide for including these practices to meet certified organic rules and increase the long-term sustainability of an organic farm.
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Iowa Cover Crop Resource Guide
A cover crop is a plant grown to protect and enrich soil when the soil would otherwise be bare. Historically, cover crops were used by ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese farmers thousands of years ago and, more recently, by colonial settlers on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Decades of research on cover crop usage across the United States is available and a renewed interest has been given to cover crops’ ability to reduce some of the environmental impacts of row crop agriculture, particularly in regards to erosion and nutrient loss prevention.
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Short Duration Cover Crops for Vegetable Production Systems
Cover crops are planted not for harvest, but are designed to maintain and enhance the sustainability of a production system by improving soil fertility, water quality and can lead to the suppression of weeds, soil erosion and pests. This publication provides information on how to use short duration cover crops to aid production, especially during a fallow period between two vegetable crops. Choosing the correct cover crop will impact its effectiveness, as will the grower’s method of seeding and termination. The publication provides tips for picking the right crop and showing how it should be used to maximize its effectiveness.
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Conservation Techniques for Vegetable Production: Combining Strip-Tillage and Cover Crops
Strip-tillage is when a crop is planted into narrow, tilled strips and the non-tilled area between the strips might contain residue from the previous season's main crop or a living or dead cover crop.

Combining strip-tillage and cover crops offers various benefits including minimal soil erosion, maintains soil moisture and weed suppression. This publication provides basic information on using a strip-tillage system with rolled cover crops as a conservation best management practice in vegetable production systems such broccoli, peppers, pumpkins, squash and tomatoes.
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Cover Crops in Vegetable Production Systems
Vegetable production systems require inputs and if not managed properly could have detrimental effects on soil and the environment. Cover crops are gaining importance and growers can used them as a best practice tool in preserving environmental sustainability of vegetable cropping systems without compromising farm productivity and profitability. This publication defines various cover crops and their benefits such as reducing soil erosion, compaction and synthetic nitrogen inputs, suppressing weeds, increasing soil organic matter and water infiltration, enhancing soil biology, and providing habitat for beneficial insects and natural enemies of pests.
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Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide 2nd Edition
The updated and expanded edition of this popular, 162-page guide includes nearly 30 pages of new material, including cover crop suggestions for common rotations, up-and-coming cover crop species, effects on yields, climate considerations, and more.

Producers who want to prevent soil erosion, improve nutrient cycling, sustain their soils, and protect the environment have been returning to a very old practice: planting cover crops.

Although farmers have been using cover crops for centuries, today's producers are part of a generation that has little experience with them. As they rediscover the role that cover crops can play in sustainable farming systems, many growers find they lack the experience and information necessary to take advantage of all the potential benefits cover crops can offer. That inexperience can lead to costly mistakes.

This guide will help you effectively select, grow, and use cover crops in your farming systems. While this guide isn't the final word on cover crops, it is meant to be a useful reference.

Available for purchase through Purdue University.
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Cover Crops Produce Benefits in Wet and Dry Times
In this publication, Lynn Laws describes how farmers and researchers are finding that cover crops provide benefits in both wet and dry seasons.

Laws is a communications specialist for Iowa State University and for the USDA-NIFA Sustainable Corn Project.

This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Winter Rye Cover Cropping System: A Long-term Investment
The benefits of cover crops are becoming well known, but researchers also want to know more about the long term impacts of cover crops on corn and soybean yields.

Based on an interview with John Sawyer, professor of agronomy at Iowa State University, this article provides an overview of what one research study is finding. Lynn Laws is a communications specialist for Iowa State University and for the USDA-NIFA Sustainable Corn Project.

This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Cover Crops Shown to Suppress Soybean Diseases
Darin Eastburn shares the results of studies that show use of cover crops tend to suppress diseases in soybean crops.

Eastburn is an associate professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Illinois and a principal investigator for the USDA-NIFA Sustainable Corn Project.

This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Cover Crops Shelter Beneficial and Harmful Insects
Matthew O'Neal shares preliminary results of his studies of the response of both pests and beneficial insects to cover crops.

O'Neal is an associate professor of entomology at Iowa State University and a principal investigator for the USDA-NIFA Sustainable Corn Project.

This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Cover Crop Selection and Management Part 1 of 3 (Video)
Tom Kaspar discusses how to select and manage cover crops for corn-based cropping systems in the upper Midwest.

Dr. Kaspar is a Plant Physiologist at the USDA-ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, IA. He also serves as a USDA Collaborator/Professor with the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University.




This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Cover Crop Selection and Management Part 2 (Video)
Tom Kaspar discusses how to select and manage cover crops for corn-based cropping systems in the upper Midwest.

Dr. Kaspar is a Plant Physiologist at the USDA-ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, IA. He also serves as a USDA Collaborator/Professor with the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University.





This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
[more]
Cover Crop Selection and Management Part 3 (Video)
Tom Kaspar discusses how to select and manage cover crops for corn-based cropping systems in the upper Midwest.

Dr. Kaspar is a Plant Physiologist at the USDA-ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, IA. He also serves as a USDA Collaborator/Professor with the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University.





This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Cover Cropping at the Homestead (Video)
Jason Jones, Iowa farmer, discusses selection and rotation of cover crops to complement different vegetable crops.

Jones farms at The Homestead's 8-acre CSA farm. The Homestead is a human resources organization that provides a variety of programs for people with autism.




This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategies (Video)
Matthew Helmers, professor, Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, talks about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the practices that help to reduce nitrate loss. Presented at a seminar on cover crops in 2013.





This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Cover Crops

Great teaching resource as well as a handout for CSCAP 0110 2012 VIDEO. Potential benefits of cover crops outlined.

This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Cover Crops (Video)
Eileen J. Kladivko, Purdue University, discusses the potential benefits of cover crops and how they could contribute to increased resiliency of our corn-soybean production systems, in response to the effects of climate change.




This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Attitudes Toward Cover Crops in Iowa: Benefits and Barriers
Learn how research on cover crops as a means toward maintaining and increasing soil productivity, also reduce agriculture's environmental impacts.

Based on data from the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll 2010 Summary Report.
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Small Grain Cover Crops for Corn and Soybean
Learn about species selection, management, and pros and cons of these cover crops.
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