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2013 Projects: Nitrogen Credits of Cover Crops in Corn Silage Rotations

Cover crops have received increasing interest from farmers in recent years. The reasons vary from erosion control and nutrient uptake to improved soil quality, increasing organic matter and field trafficability. As fertilizer prices continue to increase and producers aim to reduce N loss to the environment, many have asked about the N benefits of cover crops for silage corn systems. On-farm trials are needed to quantify these benefits for NY corn growers. The goal of this statewide project is to determine the nitrogen benefits of seeding a cover crop between corn silage harvest and planting of the next year’s corn crop.

Initial funding for this project comes from Federal Formula Funds, Northern New York Agriculture Development Program (NNYADP) and a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant. If interested in sponsoring expansion of this project, contact Quirine Ketterings at

In fall 2012, we will implement new trials with a comparison of one or two cover crop species per trial. This includes trials with a "with and without comparison" and trials where two species are compared to a no-cover-crop control. We intend to follow up with plant biomass and soil nitrate determination in the fall of the cover crop seeding, biomass and soil nitrate determination at cover crop termination (or harvest if used as a double crop), and followup with PSNT, CSNT and yield determination for the corn that follows the cover crop. Protocols are listed below.

If you would like to receive more information or have questions, contact Quirine Ketterings ( or 607-255-3061). You can also write to: Quirine Ketterings, Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, 323 Morrison Hall, Ithaca NY 14853.