Row crop farming in the Midwest has been increasingly singled out as a major non-point source of nitrate pollution in waterways, putting pressure on farmers to adopt conservation practices. One of the promising conservation practices is cover crop, which is known to promote many aspects of soil and water sustainability. However, adoption of cover crops is very low in the Midwest. Farmers’ perceptions that cover crops are costly was found to be the major barrier to their adoption, as well as lack of familiarity with novel approaches. As the first stage of a larger project funded by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, this study aims to improve the understanding of the changes cover crop brings to farm operations through focus group discussions with experienced cover crop farmers, and to provide partial budgets for cover crops under alternative scenarios.


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