A University of Nebraska–Lincoln project to develop a decision-support tool for incorporating cover crops into cropping systems has received a $41,180 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
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 5% 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 goals of this project are 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. This would represent a novel educational model to share information, said Andrea Basche, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture.
“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,” Basche said.
Researchers have been working with a group of six farmers and ranchers over the past year and a half to help develop the tool, she added.
The project is one of 23 Husker projects receiving more than $2.1 million from NET this year. In total, NET awarded 113 grants totaling more than $18 million in 2021.
The Nebraska Legislature created the NET in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the trust has provided more than $349 million in grants to more than 2,400 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.