Award-winning cover crops guide helps growers improve water quality

Red clover can be used as an effective cover crop.

Red clover can be used as an effective cover crop.

OTTAWA – A publication that teaches growers the advantages of using cover crops to improve soil health and crop yields has won several awards and is now in its third printing.

The Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, ID-433, helps growers learn how to improve the region’s water quality while improving soil health, increasing yields, lowering input costs and earning higher farm income, said Jim Hoorman, an Ohio State University Extension educator and an assistant professor studying cover crops, soil health and water quality issues.

The guide was collaboratively written in part by soil researchers and educators from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. First published in 2012 and updated in 2014, more than 52,000 copies of the book have been printed and sold, Hoorman said.

The guide had 46 co-authors including Hoorman and fellow OSU Extension educators Rafiq Islam, Alan Sundermeier, Curtis Young, Sarah Noggle and Randall Reeder, as well as researchers from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. They assisted educators and researchers from the Midwest Cover Crops Council, which includes members from several universities, including Ohio State, in revising the guide.

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

“This guide can offer really good insight to farmers on some of the benefits of using cover crops and how to grow them,” Hoorman said. “For those of us who helped to write the guide, the fact that so many farmers, growers and producers are using it is a validation and recognition of the good work that we are doing in this area.

“Hopefully the guide is helping to increase the use of cover crops and helping farmers improve their soils. In the newest edition, we’ve added 30 additional pages with more useful information on how to use manure with cover crops and herbicide carryover issues with cover crops establishment.”

In addition to other awards, the first edition of the guide also received the 2013 National No-till Conference Innovator Award. Some of the awards the second edition of the guide has received include: the 2015 National Association of County Agricultural Agents national publications finalist; and the 2015 American Society of Agronomy Excellence in Extension Award for a publication over 16 pages.

The Midwest Cover Crops Guide, second edition, is available for $5 and can be purchased from OSU Extension county offices and through the Midwest Cover Crops Council at

The guide is 161 pages and includes information on how to introduce cover crops into field crops production, common types of cover crops to plant, climate considerations when planting cover crops and seeding rates.

Red clover can be used as an effective cover crop. clover can be used as an effective cover crop.