Skip to Content

The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

KSU receives grant for cover crop research

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on Feb. 1, 2020

Kansas State University’s (KSU) Department of Agronomy recently received a $10 million grant through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture and Food Initiative under their Sustainable Ag Systems Program. 

            “The project brings together folks involved in cover crop research from the mid-Atlantic, northeast and western U.S.,” explains Peter Tomlinson, KSU environmental quality specialist. 

            Tomlinson notes he will be involved in three common experiments being done at a number of locations across the country to develop data that isn’t generated in a single region. 

The experiments

            “One of the experiments is focused around on-farm research, and my colleague DeAnn Presley will be leading this effort,” Tomlinson says. 

            He notes for this experiment, they are in the process of identifying three producers who have already implemented cover crops into their systems and are willing to work with them. 

            “We have some standard measurements and data on this part of the project,” he explains. “As the larger project develops, we will be using some new technology to gain more knowledge on how the adoption of cover crops may be effecting the overall management of a system and what kind of tools we have to make an adjustment in nitrogen applications driven by a seasonal or year-to-year effect.” 

            “I will be taking the lead on the other two common experiments,” Tomlinson adds. “These will be small plot-based experiments.” 

            He explains one of the experiments will focus on developing data that will allow them to quantify potential nitrogen credits of cover crops.

            “This experiment will primarily focus around cover crops with corn, but we will also be doing some work on cover crop nutrient credits for soybeans,” he notes.

            Tomlinson explains the third experiment will focus on weed, pest and insect pressure. 

            “The impact of cover crops on nitrogen effect, water use efficiency and pest control is of utmost interest to producers and highlights the main management challenges producers face when adopting cover crops or even after they have been utilizing them for awhile,” Tomlinson says.

            He continues, “We have been working hard to get all of our protocols developed, and the first cover crops for this project will be planted in the fall. We will continue collecting data for the next four years.” 

Other research

            On top of the three common experiments, he will be involved in, Tomlinson notes some other research done by KSU on cover crops.

            “There have been a number of KSU researchers looking at the questions around nutrient credits and how fertility recommendations need to change,” he says. “There will also certainly be some work done looking at cover crop mixtures and options such as cereal rye and triticale.”

            “In the case of high biomass cover crops such as sorghum sudan, there is an additional nitrogen input to maintain yield which provides researchers an opportunity to dive deeper into the questions around cover crop management,” he adds.

Cover Crops Council 

            Tomlinson notes one of the avenues that has allowed cover crop researchers across the country to come together is their association with regional cover crop councils. 

            “DeAnn and I have been involved in the Midwest Cover Crop Council which covers the 12 states in the north-central region,” he says. “I would like to add the 2020 Cover Crops Council annual meeting will be held Feb. 11 and 12 at the KCI Expo Center in Kansas City, Mo.” 

            Tomlinson continues, “The meeting is a real opportunity for growers across the nation to attend a well-rounded program loaded with good information showcasing the latest research behind cover crop implementation.” 

            For more information on the 2020 Cover Crops Council annual meeting, visit            Hannah Bugas is the assistant editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

Back to top