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Research Shows Advantage of “Farm-Tuning” Cover Crop Mixes

Penn State research on eight organic dairy farms in Pennsylvania and New York and on research plots at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center showed that cover crop mixes perform very differently in different locations. Participating farmers seeded a standard pre-formulated commercial cover crop mixture of canola, Austrian winter pea, triticale, red clover, and crimson clover, as well as a “farm-tuned” mixture of the same five species that adjusted seeding rates to achieve that farmer’s particular goals. Researchers found that cover crop mixture expression varied greatly across farms, depending significantly on soil inorganic nitrogen content and planting dates that influenced the number of growing days.