S1085: Cover Crops for Sustainable Southern Agroecosystems

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

S1085: Cover Crops for Sustainable Southern Agroecosystems

Duration: 10/01/2019 to 09/30/2024

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Non-Technical Summary

Statement of Issues and Justification

The issues that need attention through cover crop research in the Southern region identified below emerged from a lengthy process of consultation with farmers, technical advisors, and other agricultural professionals over a period of two years. The overall strategy for this lengthy process was to refine the understanding of needs and priorities throughout the process, starting with those identified through the region-wide survey and using each successive wave of data collection to further specify needs and sharpen objectives. The process started with input from potential stakeholders throughout the region: (1) the Southern Region Assessment of Research Priorities and (2) the identification of needs on the part of participants in the Southern Cover Crops Conference Evaluation. (3) An in-depth assessment of Cover Crop Research Needs and Priorities in Florida supplemented the regional to improve understanding of needs in the southern sub-tropical coastal plain sub-region. (4) A team consisting of members of the Southern Cover Crops Council with responsibility for developing this proposal conducted an Expert Elicitation of research needs among representatives on the Council.

Southern Region Assessment of Research Priorities. A team consisting at least one representative from each Southern region state and territory conducted a region-wide assessment of research priorities as part of a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) planning grant. The planning grant process ultimately resulted in a regional conference and the formation of a Southern Cover Crop Council. The SSARE Administrative Council asked that SARE representatives of all states in the region participate. SSARE did not dictate the methods of data collection and the approaches used ranged from formal survey-type approaches to less formal approaches like solicitation of information from key informants. Fifty-six individuals from eleven states and two territories responded. They provided a list of 188 topics, which the study team categorized by topic and sub-topic. Two broad topics emerged as the most frequently mentioned, cover crop mixtures and nutrient cycling (22 and 23 comments from individuals in 8 and 9 states/territories, respectively). Other frequently mentioned priorities were benefits of using cover crops, the economics of using cover crops, establishment, management, disease suppression, grazing, water use and weed suppression. Each of these topics included several sub-topics. Two clear conclusions emerged from this study. First, the multiplicity of responses reflects the diversity of farming systems, climatic zones, soil type, and scale of production in the Southern Region. Second, many of the needs interact and overlap in complex ways, which often differ by production system. As the report from this study points out, there will be a wide range of specific research needs requiring attention in the Southern Region, despite consistent support for cover crop research by Southern SARE.

Southern Cover Crops Conference Evaluation. Participants in the planning grant from Florida and Kentucky conducted a systematic evaluation of all sessions and field demonstrations at the Southern Cover Crops Conference (SCCC). This conference was a primary outcome of the planning grant and drew participants from throughout the region. Participants included farmers, technical advisors from the public and private sector, researchers, and other stakeholders active in sustainable agriculture initiatives in the region. In addition to evaluating participant learning and assessment of each activity, the evaluation team distributed a survey to all participants. The evaluation included identification of research priorities and of barriers to cover crop adoption by growers. The identification process involved two steps. First, participants selected three top priorities for research from a list of broadly defined potential choices, such as beneficials and pest control or soil biology. The broad areas were based on the results of other surveys about cover crops and were reviewed to a group of experienced cover crop users for additions, deletions and rewording. Table 1 provides the results of this initial selection process. After selecting three priority research areas, the respondent provided a specific research topic for each of the three priority areas s/he selected. Participants did not select these responses from a pre-determined list, but rather stated them in their own words, resulting in very specific research needs. Examples are “weed control in perennial crops”, “benefits of grass, legume, forb mixtures, if any”, and “more data with different crops and inter-relationships of grazing cover crops in those systems”. Respondents also indicated they saw as the biggest barrier that each of the three research priorities poses to grower adoption of cover crops. This response serves as an indicator of the likely impacts that will result from addressing each research area identified. Example provided are “new varieties farmers aren’t familiar with”, “length of time to receive benefits”, and “cover crops for weed control – a barrier I foresee in this area are residual effects that may linger”.

Table 1. Priorities for Cover Crop Research as Identified by Participants in the Southern Region Cover Crops Conference


Overall, the priorities for research identified in the Southern Cover Crop Conference Evaluation reflect the results of the regional survey described previously. Nutrient and fertility management and varieties and mixtures of cover crops were very high priorities for conference attendees. Establishment, termination and management of residues also emerged, similar to the cover crop management priority in the regional survey. The identification of specific research topics by conference participants demonstrates very clearly the complex relationships between not only broad areas of research, but also at the more specific level elicited in the evaluation. For example, relatively few participants selected soil moisture management as a top research priority, but examination of the specific research topics shows that soil moisture is a component in many other research priorities. Several respondents, for example, provided research topics about the relationships between soil moisture management and nutrient management, termination practices, and soil biology. The identification of barriers reflected the overall need for site- and system-specific research. Many of the statements concerning barriers reflected essentially respondents’ concern of the risks associated with uncertain outcomes from cover crop use – ranging from unknown biological impacts to little confidence in the economic benefits of cover crop use in general and/or of specific practices associated with cover crops. These findings reinforce the need for a combination of component, disciplinary research with broader multi-disciplinary research that provides growers with enhanced tools for determining which of the specific practices and tools emerge in component research are apt to be of most benefit to him/her. Finally, these findings also demonstrate a need to prioritize the overall emergent research needs at the sub-regional level. The identification of barriers to cover crop adoption provides clear indications that cover crop adoption in the Southern Region is likely to expand slowly without extensive sub-region and cropping system level research that addresses overall regional research needs.

Cover Crop Research Needs and Priorities in Florida. Faculty members at the University of Florida conducted a statewide survey of stakeholders in Florida to gain further insights into the use of cover crops, barriers to expanding use, and principal research needs. The purpose of this study was to deepen understanding of the barriers, opportunities, and needs of producers in the sub-tropical coastal plain sub-region of the South where cropping systems, climate, and soils differ from those of the other sub-regions. It provided an opportunity to examine the degree to which sub-regional research priorities coincide with the broader findings from the Southern Region Assessment of Research Priorities and the Southern Cover Crop Conference Evaluation. The respondents in this study were not farmers, but rather agency (mostly NRCS) or university researchers or extension specialists with extensive experience with cover crops. Respondents completed a questionnaire that included some components of the SCCC Evaluation. However, we asked respondents whether they work with farmers who do not use cover crops. Four of thirteen expert respondents had no experience with non-users. All had experience with cover crop users. Those with experience with non-users were asked to identify barriers to adoption among non-users. Three key barriers emerged: (1) timing establishment and termination of cover crops, (2) lack of confidence about the long-term benefits of cover crops, and (3) relatively ineffective alternative to chemical pest control. Two of the challenges to farmers who do use cover crops were the same: timing establishment and termination and little confidence in long-term benefits. However, the expert respondents identified two other major challenges for users. One was the annual cost of planting and managing cover crops and the other was the need for varieties specific to Florida growing conditions. Among fourteen specific research topics identified in the SCCC Evaluation, nine emerged as high or moderate priorities for these experts, based on frequency of selecting these options in a list of specific topics for research. The differences in barriers to non-users and challenges to users are noteworthy because they show that research is needed not only to increase cover crop adoption, but also to address serious challenges faced by those who have already adopted cover crops. For example, for users the cost of managing cover crops is a major challenge and, given the increased international competition to US growers, is likely to be a major factor in the future, particularly for producers of high value horticultural crops with very high associated economic risk and declining profitability for US producers.

Expert Elicitation. The Southern Cover Crop Council established a strategy team with responsibility for identifying the research priorities to address through region-wide research and establish the goals and objectives for the research proposed here. The team conducted a systematic elicitation of critical objectives from 23 members of the Southern Cover Crop Council who participated via e-mail or teleconference in this process. Based on the information described above, these individuals provided four sets of critical research objectives. They identified critical objectives for row crops (10 objectives), specialty crops (5 objectives), (3) winter cover crops (14 objectives), summer cover crops (5 objectives), and grazing (6) objectives. Among experts in row crop systems, research objectives focused on three primary themes: nutrient management, pest management, and the effects of cover crops on soil moisture. For specialty crops, key considerations were the effects of cover crops on soil and water quality, including erosion control, soil moisture management, and pest management. Among objectives for winter cover crops, cover crop management (varieties, timing, residue management, effects on cash crops), effects of cover crops on soil health and quality including moisture retention, and once more, better information regarding the long-term economic and biophysical benefits of cover crop use. Objectives were similar for summer cover crops, but typically more specific to a particular crop or cropping system. Grazing management strategies, including rotational grazing using annuals and mixed species, emerged as specific priorities.

The team responsible for the development of this proposal also compared and contrasted the findings from the four procedures described previously with the findings reported in the 2015-2016 Annual Report of the nationwide Cover Crop Survey completed by SARE, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). Not surprising, the results of the national survey differed in many details based in part on the relatively poor participation among the states in the southern region. The report classifies states by number of respondents to the survey (0-7, 8-21, 22-57, 58-104 and 105-357). All states except Missouri (58-104 respondents) reported fewer than 58 responses. Nonetheless, the national data do reinforce some of the conclusions reached through the preliminary research that informs this proposal. For example, respondents reported effects on soil as major benefits of cover crops. However, only relatively few respondents were said that they received benefits in terms of reduced nutrient application. Only 34% said that cover crops increased profitability, a major concern in the Southern Region, while 35% said they do not have enough data or information to know, 6% said that cover crops decrease profitability, and 26% said that cover crops do not affect profitability. This finding suggests documenting the benefits of cover crop use is a persistent barrier and challenge and should be a high priority to address through both biological and economic research in the Southern Region. Significant barriers identified in the national study included seeding the right species and cover crop establishment, similar to concerns of respondents in the Southern Region, again suggesting that this is a persistent issue and one that regional research should address. A majority of growers in the national survey do use cover crop mixes, all but five percent reported that they have maintained or increased using mixes since they adopted cover crops. This suggests that developing appropriate mixtures for Southern Region systems and conditions may be an important factor in increased adoption and improved benefits from cover crops in the region.

Technical feasibility of the research. Perhaps the greatest strength of this multistate project is that it will be an initiative of the SCCC and will have guidance and oversight from a SCCC Board standing committee. Since members of the SCCC are already engaged in research on cover crops within their own states, the project will harness researcher knowledge and build upon existing cover crop expertise and experience. The SCCC also includes farmer members, cover crop seed industry members, and USDA NRCS personnel who can contribute valuable, real world perspectives that will inform the research. It is likely that equipment for planting, irrigation, data collection, and termination will vary with location and this may be considered a limitation. However, it can be an advantage due to the fact that there will also be differences in the equipment available to farmers for implementing and terminating cover crops. A multistate approach will allow involvement of scientists with a variety of complementary expertise from breeding to soil microbiology and economics that will broaden the scope of the research and increase the extent, applicability, and quality of the results.

The advantages for doing the work as a multistate effort. The mission of the Southern Cover Crops Council (SCCC) is: “To facilitate and enhance communication and collaboration among producers, extension, researchers, and other agricultural professionals, and transfer of information and technology to promote the successful adoption and integration of cover crops into southern agricultural systems”. A major goal of the SCCC is to promote natural resource conservation through the use of cover crops that increase farm profitability and environmental stewardship by increasing the knowledge and skills of farmers and ranchers. Coordinated, multistate research is regarded as a key component that will contribute to achieving this goal.

The southern region encompasses a range of climates, topography, soil types, and production systems. These differences can influence cover crop adaptability and contribute to the site-specific performance that is typical with cover crops. The establishment of a multistate project provides a mechanism and framework to build the research and outreach networks that will ensure that the coordinated research and the associated extension provide farmers and ranchers with the knowledge and technology that will lead to favorable outcomes and impacts. A multistate approach will allow the development of recommendations and decision-aids that adjust for subregional differences and peculiarities. The multistate collaborations that will be fostered will improve the likelihood of successfully obtaining research funding from grant programs that encourage a multistate approach.

Likely impacts from successfully completing the work. The research will result in increased cover crop options for the southern region and improved knowledge about how, where, and when cover crops should be used in order to optimize benefits and minimize tradeoffs. Research results will contribute to the development educational materials and databases, and the creation of new decision tools and/or modification of existing tools with direct applicability to the southern region. Related extension and outreach will involve improved SCCC platforms for communication with farmers and ranchers and enhanced peer-to-peer knowledge exchange among farmers and ranchers. The integrated networks of farmers, university researchers, USDA ARS researchers, and USDA NRCS personnel researchers fostered by the multistate project and facilitated by the SCCC will contribute an expansion in acreage on which cover crops are successfully implemented.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Research about the use of cover crops has been less prevalent in the Southern Region than in some other parts of the country. Research reported in CRIS resulted in only 28 projects that focused wholly or in part on research or extension in the Southern Region, compared to, for example, 211 projects in the North Central Region. Cover crops are often a secondary emphasis in the current and past research, rather than the focus of the research, limiting the range of treatments employed and the ability to understand the interactions among cover crops, target crops, weeds and pests. While component research, such as effects of cover crops on soil nitrogen accumulation, carbon sequestration or soil organic matter, has advanced in the region, comprehensive research that focuses explicitly on the crop-cover crop-soil-pest system remains scanty. Two highly related bodies of research have emerged in the past decade, the role of cover crops in soil health and quality and the complex relationships between cover crops and pest and disease management.

Cover Crop Effects on Soil Quality

A growing body of research in the Southern Region represented in the CRIS reporting system focuses on soil health and quality, issues of particular concern in the region given the prevalence of sandy soils and the hot, humid climate of the Coastal Plain area. The very recent research is limited. Reiter’s recent Hatch project addresses multiple challenges to improving soil quality prevalent in the region, but this project will rely largely on demonstration plots and has a strong extension focus (Reiter 2017). Another new project led by Czarnecki et al. (2017) will evaluate soil physical, chemical and biological properties under cover crop management, but this project focuses only on the mid-South Atlantic sub-region. Causarano et al. (2006) reviewed the accumulated evidence regarding soil organic carbon sequestration in cotton production systems in the Southeast. Recent work extends this finding to additional crops and cropping systems. For example, Mulvaney et al. (2016) found that high biomass cover crops and invasive legume mulches increased total soil carbon in collard production, and Kornecki (2016) reports the effects of combining cover crops with no-till planting for cotton on soil characteristics.

Pest and Weed Management

Using cover crops as a component in pest and weed management has been the subject are the subject of considerable research in the region, focusing to a large degree on soil-borne pests and weeds. Timper et al. (2006) examined the reproduction of Meloidogyne incognita when winter cover crops are incorporated into cotton production systems. Huseth’s recent research explores new avenues and examines the efficacy of entomopathogenic nematodes in combination with cover crops to control the wireworm pest complex in sweet potatoes. Reddy & Koger (2004) initiated research on the effects of cover crops on weeds in corn in the early 2000s. A recently initiated project in Florida citrus incorporates cover crops as a component in pest and disease management (Ferrarezi et al. 2017). Research focusing on the potential combination of cover crops and alternative tillage practices is growing. Price et al. (2016) examined the use of high-residue cover crops alone versus in combination with tillage to reduce Palmer amaranth in cotton in the Southeast. Marshall et al. (2016) also examine the relationships between cover crop and tillage. Zinati et al. (2017) also examined using high-residue cover crops to suppress weeds in soybean and Greene et al. (2017) focused their work on timing of cover crop termination, but the majority of this work may not be applicable to the cropping systems or soil-climate systems in the Southern Region. Recent research with organic strawberry production in Florida and North Carolina focuses on the use of cover crops to suppress weeds and reduce nematode pressure (Chase and Coplin, 2017).

Soil Moisture and Nutrient Cycling

Other CRIS projects in the Southeast do not directly address effects of cover crops on soil moisture and nutrient cycling. Certainly cover crops are a part of many CRIS projects throughout the country, but the incorporation of cover crops is commonly a component of a larger research effort, such as the incorporation of cover crops as part of an integrated arthropod pest management strategy (Teague, 2017), as part of a conservation agriculture system (Mulvaney, 2015) or to improve irrigation use efficiency (Dodla et al., 2015). Copes (2018) focuses on winter cover crops for the production of summer crops, addressing cover crop management, nematode populations, and soil chemical and physical properties, with soil moisture being monitored only once at summer crop planting. Garcia y Garcia (2017) has a current project relevant to our efforts, investigating cover crop effects on soil water and nitrogen, but the work is conducted in Minnesota on corn-soybean rotations and is not applicable to the soils, climate, and cropping systems common in the Southeast. Similarly, Ghimire (2016) investigates cover cropping as part of semiarid dryland cropping systems in New Mexico. His work will inform our research efforts even though the climate and soil types are different. There is a need for multi-state research on cover crop practices that improve soil moisture and nutrient cycling specifically under the conditions unique to the Southeastern US.

Forage Value of Cover Crops

To address a growing interest in forage value of cover crops as an additional benefit without compromising the primary objectives of soil conservation, there is a need to develop effective management strategies. Regardless of the actual forage utilization method – grazing or mechanical harvesting – research-based information on whether and how the timing and intensity of defoliation may affect soil heath, soil erosion, soil compaction, the buildup of soil organic matter, and/or reduction in nutrient leaching is important for each preferred production system. Equally important is the information on forage yield and quality response of identified multipurpose cover crops to the management approaches. The use of cover crops as winter forage resources has been considered an important component for profitable crop-livestock integration (Sulc and Tracy, 2007). Based on trials with cover crops in no tillage and conventional tillage systems in Georgia, Franzluebbers and Stuedeman (2008) found grazing of cover crops to have no effect on soil macroaggregate stability although it tended to decrease the rate of water infiltration and increase soil penetration resistance. However, information from comparable studies on forage attributes of various cover crops when managed in ways applicable to integrated crop-livestock systems is scarce or missing. These growing needs for information call for studies on differential species response to defoliation and how such may be manipulated by management approaches. Therefore, in this project, regional multi-location trials with various species combination under simulated management approaches are needed to build up a dependable database for different major production systems.


  1. Identify a common set of biological and economic measures that can be applied across crop and cover crop combinations throughout the region to generate a region-wide database.
  2. Select and evaluate summer and winter cover crop germplasm for regional adaptability and determine the appropriate timing of planting, seeding rates, utilization of cover crop goods (includes grazing), and termination to optimize benefits without adversely affecting cash crop cycles.
  3. Assess the influence of cover crops on soil moisture, nutrient cycling, and soil microbiology.
  4. Characterize cover crop efficacy for enhancing cropping system resilience to weeds, pests, and plant pathogens.
  5. Generate an economic database that researchers, technical advisors, and farmers can use to assess the short and long-term economic outcomes of cover crop use.


Objective 1: Identify a common set of biological, chemical, physical, and economic measures and indicators that can be applied across crop and cover crop combinations throughout the region to generate a region-wide database.

Using prior research experience and the cover crop primary literature, participants will examine existing measures and indicators that are used for assessing the effectiveness of cover crop utilization. Identification of appropriate indicators can take a participatory approach (e.g. Thivierge et al. 2014) so that the resulting measures and indicators selected have utility not only for developing regional decision-aid tools for cover crop use, but are also relevant to farmers, and can be either readily assessed by farmers and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel or easily obtained by submitting samples to commercial laboratories.

Objective 2: Select and evaluate summer and winter cover crop germplasm for regional adaptability and determine the appropriate timing of planting, utilization of cover crop goods (includes grazing), and termination to optimize benefits without adversely affecting cash crop cycles.

This objective will include breeding and selection for new cover crop germplasm with adaptability to the southern region. Additionally, other researchers will evaluate new and existing summer and winter cover crop germplasm in multiple locations in each state to characterize cover crop species, varieties, and germplasm lines in order to assess productivity and adaptability. In order to inform our work on the economics of cover cropping, this objective will also involve the estimation of cover crop nutrient and water requirements in addition to their growth potential. Studies will examine planting and termination dates to determine what dates give optimal results for the region. For cover crops that also yield a commercial good such as forage for grazing animals, studies will determine which strategies allow for effectively utilizing the commercial good while still accruing benefits from the cover crop. The data to be collected will be used for developing site-specific recommendations for use of cover crop monocultures and mixtures that provide more predictable cover crop performance and outcomes. Socio-economic research will identify the barriers to adoption of cover crop technology and propose methods of overcoming the barriers.

Objective 3: Assess the influence of cover crops on soil moisture, nutrient cycling, and soil microbiology.

A clearer understanding of how cover crops can influence nutrient and water use efficiency is needed. Soil moisture is an issue in some parts of the region (eg Oklahoma, for pasture and row crops). Cover crops will be evaluated as monocultures and mixtures across multiple states within the region. Sensors and dataloggers will be deployed during the cover cropping period as well as during subsequent rainfed crops to compare the effects of various cover crop treatments on soil moisture availability.

Studies will also be conducted to develop data-based recommendations for the use of cover crops as catch crops to protect ground and surface waters from nutrient loading. Cover crops will be compared for their efficacy as catch crops for scavenging residual fertilizer from previous cash crops and for their ability to limit leaching and runoff of nutrients to ground and surface waters. Cover crops also differ in their residue decomposition dynamics and nutrient release patterns and capacities, which are influenced by factors such as climate, tillage system, soil type, and soil microorganisms. The effects of cover crop types and management strategies on rates of residue decomposition, nutrient availability, soil organic matter, cation exchange capacity, and soil fertility will be evaluated. The long-term effects of cover crop use on soil biology and soil health will documented. Also of interest will be the percentage of nutrients from a preceding cover crop that are utilized by succeeding cash crops.

Objective 4: Characterize cover crop efficacy for enhancing cropping system resilience to weeds, pests, and plant pathogens.

Intercropping cover crops as living mulches and adding cover crops to crop rotations during the off-season can be utilized for suppression of weeds, pests, and pathogens. Since cover crop species and varieties can vary in their ability to provide such protection, further research is needed to document the utility of regionally adapted cover crops for crop protection. Conversely, there is also need for greater documentation on cover crop susceptibility to pests and disease so that recommendations can be refined so that farmer use of cover crops do not create or exacerbate pest problems. Horticultural crops within the region tend to have a high dependence on pesticide use and may benefit from identifying cover crops that can contribute to cropping systems that are more resilient to weeds, arthropod pests, and pathogens. The following types of studies are anticipated:

  • Assessing within cover crop species host status against plant pathogenic nematodes.
  • Characterizing the effects of cover crop residues on plant-parasitic nematodes.
  • Optimizing cover crop use for managing weeds.
  • Developing recommendations for cover crop and living mulch use for tropical agroecosystems.
  • Evaluating cover crop and living mulch effects on beneficial and pest arthropods.
  • Determining the influence of cover crops on soil-borne disease and soil suppressiveness.

Measurement of Progress and Results


  • A common set of biological, chemical, physical, and economic measures and indicators adopted for the southern region to evaluate cover crop performance and document the benefits of cover crop use. The measures of benefits and performance of cover crops may also include agroecosystem functionality, such as carbon sequestration, nutrient retention, biomass production, weed suppression, and nitrogen fixation. Trade-offs or the net outcome of cover crop use will be important aspects for dissemination via extension and outreach to grower clientele and the general public.
  • New recommendations of cover crop germplasm adapted to the southern region.
  • Database of information on cover crops adapted to the southern region including recommended planting and termination dates for different cropping systems and approaches to optimize the harvest of commercial goods from cover crops/retention of the environmental benefits.
  • Decision support tools for selecting cover crops based on criteria such as subregion, soil type, cropping system, and required ecosystem services.
  • Documentation of barriers to adoption of cover crops in the southern region and recommendations for overcoming barriers.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • More farmers using cover crops in the southern region.
  • Increased acreage of land planted with cover crops.
  • Improved nutrient and water use efficiency.
  • Reduced need for off-farm inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides leading to improved farm economics.
  • Improved environmental conditions related to ecosystem services that accrue from cover crop use.


(2019):Establish working groups for each objective, refine methodology for each objective, complete Objective 1, initiate preliminary research on Objectives 2 – 4, write and submit grant proposals as applicable to fund research on Objectives 2 – 4. Annual meeting and annual report.

(2020):Publish the common set of biological, chemical, physical, and economic measures identified in Objective 1. First year of grant-funded research on Objectives 2 – 4. Initiate database development and decision-support tools. Begin sharing of research progress on social media. Annual meeting and annual report.

(2021):Second year of grant-funded research on Objectives 2 – 4. Presentation of results at scientific meetings. Share research progress: social media, field days, workshops. Continue work on databases and decision support tools. Beta-test decision support tools. Annual meeting and annual report.

(2022):Third year of grant-funded research on Objectives 2 – 4. Presentation of results at scientific meetings. Share research progress: social media, field days, workshops. Revise and finalize decision support tools. Multistate data analyses. Annual meeting and annual report.

(2023):Writing and publication of extension materials and journal articles. Clientele utilizing decision support tools. Determine next research priorities. Write new multistate project. Write and submit grant proposals. Annual meeting and final report.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

For each objective, participants will coordinate and communicate about research activities, data analysis, presentations, and publications using a videoconferencing platform. Additionally, during an annual meeting, investigators will present an oral report as well as provide a written report for collation into an annual report. Multistate outreach and communication through the SCCC will be facilitated by the Outreach and Communication standing committee. Researchers and extension specialists will coordinate to develop/modify SCCC decision support tools. Results will be communicated via the SCCC website and presented at field days, workshops, and scientific meetings. Social media will be used to communicate ongoing research progress.


The Research/Hatch standing committee and the Outreach and Communication standing committee of the Southern Cover Crops Council will provide oversight for project-related research and outreach, respectively. A technical committee will be led by a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary who will be elected annually. The Chair-elect succeeds the Chair and the Secretary succeeds the Chair-elect to provide continuity. Participants of each objective will constitute a working group for that objective and will elect a representative to serve on the technical committee. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a NIFA Representative.

Literature Cited

Causarano, H.J., A.J. Franzluebbers, D.W. Reeves, J.N. Shaw. 2006. Soil organic carbon sequestration in cotton production systems of the southeastern USA: a review. Journal of Environmental Quality 35:1374-1383.

Chase, C.A. and S.B. Coplin. 2017. A cover crop mixture for weed and sting nematode management. Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstract 320. http://wssaabstracts.com/public/45/proceedings.html.

Czarnecki, J.M., B.H. Baker, J.M. Orlowski, and J.M. Shockley. 2017. Quantifying the agronomic, economic, and environmental benefits of cover crops in mid-south production systems, CRIS proj no: MIS-011210. Mississsippi State University.

Copes, J.O. 2018. Investigating cover crop benefits for increased productivity in northeast Louisiana row crop systems. CRIS proj no: LAB94383. Louisiana State University.

Dodla, S., J.J. Wang, D. Fromme, J. Lofton, C. Jeong, and B. Haggard. 2015. Development and evaluation of management strategies to improve row crop irrigation efficiency. CRIS proj no: LAB94295. Louisiana State University.

Ferrarezi, R.S., F. Gmitter, J. Grosser, R. Beeson, L. Cano, L. Rossi, and J. Quereshi. 2017. Improving grapefruit production in the Indian River through horticultural practices. CRIS proj no FLA-IRC-005667. University of Florida.

Franzluebbers, A.J. and J.A. Stuedemann. 2008. Soil physical responses to cattle grazing cover crops under conventional and no tillage in the Southern Piedmont USA Soil & Tillage Research 100:141-153.

Garcia y Garcia, A. 2017. The cover crop water and nitrogen nexus: Impact on corn and soybean production and the environment. CRIS proj no: MIN-10-018. University of Minnesota.

Ghimire, R.A. 2016. Conservation tillage and cover crops for improving sustainability of semiarid dryland cropping systems in the southwestern United States.  CRIS proj no: NMGhimiri-16H. New Mexico State University.

Greene, C., W.S. Curran, J. Wallace, S.B. Mirsky, M.R. Ryan, M. VanGessel, M. Barbercheck, 2017. Cover crop termination timing is critical in organic rotational no-till systems. Agronomy Journal 109:272-282.

Huseth, A.S. 2018. Ecology and management of arthropod pests affecting field crops and sweet potatoes in the southeastern. CRIS proj no. NC02664. North Carolina State University.

Kornecki, T.S. 2016. The effects of combined cover crop termination and planting in a cotton no-till system. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 32:551-560.

Marshall, M., P. Williams, A.M. Nafchi, J.M. Maja, J. Payero, J. Mueller, and A. Khalilian. 2016. Influence of tillage and deep rooted winter cover crops on soil properties, pests, and yield responses in cotton. Journal of Soil Sciences 6:149-158.

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Mulvaney, M.J., C.W. Wood, K.S. Balkcom, D.A. Shannon, and J.M. Kemble. 2016. No-till with high biomass cover crops and invasive legume mulches increased total soil carbon after three years of collard production. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 41:30-45.

Price, A.J., C.D. Monks, A.S. Culpepper, L.M. Duzy, J.A. Kelton, M.W. Marshall, L.E. Steckel, and R.L Nichols. 2016. High-residue cover crops alone or with strategic tillage to manage glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) in southeastern cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 71:1-11.

Reiter, M. 2017. Improving soil quality and crop productivity by utilizing diverse and high-residue cover crops in the southeast USA (Accession 1014258, M. Reiter, 2017-2022).

Sulc, R. M. and B. F. Tracy. 2007. Integrated crop-livestock systems in the U.S. corn belt. Agronomy Journal 99:335-345.

Teague, T. 2017. Integration of arthropod pest management tactics with soil and water conservation systems in cotton and soybean production in the lower Mississippi basin.  CRIS proj no: ARK02569. University of Arkansas.

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