“Cover crops are usually planted between the regular crop production periods,” says Hanna Poffenbarger, a graduate student in the department of agronomy at Iowa State University. Poffenbarger did graduate work on cover crops at the University of Maryland. “They protect the soil from erosion and take up excess nutrients when the ground would otherwise be bare.”
The method and results of the study can be read here, but Poffenbarger believes the results will be able to help farmers understand which benefits cover crops can best provide.
“Farmers can use our results to optimize cover crop management for their specific mulch and nitrogen goals,” she says.