Single Ear of Oats in a Field

Cover Crop Decisions

Are you interested in incorporating cover crops into your rotation?
If so, we have the resources to help you get started and determine what you need for your specific operation. 

Consider your rotation

To maximize the benefits of cover crops, as soon as one crop is harvested, terminated, or incorporated, the next should be planted. This allows for active plant growth to occur during months when cash crops are not being grown. Actively growing plants take up water and nutrients from the soil decreasing the risk for nutrient loss, and they provide a physical cover for soil decreasing the risk of surface erosion.

Click the button below to view timelines that illustrate how a farmer with different crop rotations could incorporate cover crops.

Selecting the right cover crop

Selection of a cover crop depends on when it can be planted and the goal for its use. There are many cover crop species. Legume cover crops fix atmospheric nitrogen, they have a lower carbon to nitrogen ratio, and they breakdown more rapidly than non-legumes. Non-legume species can be good nutrient scavengers, they have higher carbon to nitrogen ratios, and they breakdown more slowly than legumes.

There are many species of cover crops. When selecting a cover crop, keep in mind when it can be planted and the goal for its use.

Cover Crop Considerations

Seed costs, planting method, and termination method should be considered
when deciding to implement cover crops into your rotation.


Larger seeds, such as hairy vetch and winter peas can be planted through the normal hopper of a drill. Clovers may require a small-seeder attachment.

Broadcasting cover crop seeds can be done with a fertilizer spreader followed by light incorporation, or seeds can be broadcast by aerial application. 

Ask The Agronomist

Our team of expert agronomists can help you determine the cover crops and mixes that will work best for your specific operation.

Meet with our Precision Ag and Conservation Specialist, Sarah Moore, and schedule a time to discuss integrating conservation practices. 


If the cover crop does not naturally winter-kill, then growers should have a plan to kill the cover before it competes with the next cash crop.

This can be done mechanically or by using herbicides. Timing is important when killing a spring-growing cover crop. Cover crops can act as weeds if not controlled. 

Corn, Soybean, Wheat Rotation

Corn, Soybean Rotation

Our Favorite Resources

Some of our favorite resources for cover crop guidance include the NRCS, Midwest Cover Crop Council, and Ohio State University Extension. 

Heritage Cooperative can source any cover crop from any company, so please reach out to us if you are interested in a specific species or company.