Cover crop decision tool gets grant from Nebraska Environmental Trust
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has received a $41,530 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to help develop a decision support tool to incorporate cover crops into cropping systems.
The project is led by Andrea Basche, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture.
Increasing cover crop acreage on annual croplands in Nebraska represents a significant opportunity to ensure soil and water sustainability with a more variable climate. Less than 2% of the 19 million cropland acres in the state are using the practice, and producers cite barriers associated with timing of establishment as well as a need for more regionally specific information on a variety of cover crop species.
The goal of this project is to cost-effectively synthesize existing data on cover crops to create a decision-support platform through the formation of an expert cover crop producer network, representing a novel educational model to share information. The producer network will ensure that the tool addresses the most pertinent producer needs and will be designed to support a range of locations, climates and soil types across the state in evaluating tradeoffs associated with crop yields and cover crop biomass. The tool will also quantify potential forage production and forage quality, as well as environmental improvements associated with reduced erosion, decreased nitrate loss, increased carbon and enhanced water storage. This project will benefit crop and livestock producers across the state and ultimately lead to greater environmental outcomes for Nebraska’s general public.
The project is one of 118 receiving a total of $20 million in grant awards from NET this year. Of these, 73 were new applications and 45 are carry-over projects.
The Nebraska Legislature created NET in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the trust has provided more than $328 million in grants to more than 2,300 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The NET works to preserve, protect and restore the state’s natural resources for future generations.