Agronomy Bulletins  11/04/13 2:43:29 PM


Nitrogen Crediting for Fields with Cover Crops

The increase number of acres planted to cover crops has raised questions on nitrogen (N) crediting for the 2014 cropping year.  While there are many benefits touted for the use of cover crops, there are a lot of unknowns when determining N credits.  This is especially true for mixes with multiple plant species. 

One of the benefits of cover crops is scavenging of N during the growing season.  This N can potentially be released for the following year's crop.  While there may be a benefit from additional N available to the next year's crop, the process of mineralization of N through the decomposition of residue can progress over the growing season.  Thus, N may not be available during periods of rapid N uptake by corn.  This delay in availability makes it difficult to predict the amount of available N using the total amount of N per acre contained in the crop.  For small grain crops, if the crop was terminated when the crop was drying down, then no N credit should be used.

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