The Soil & Agroecosystems Lab at the University of Michigan is seeking farmers to participate in a citizen science study to understand variation in cover crop growth across different farming conditions. Fields in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, or Minnesota that currently contain fall planted, overwintering cover crops are eligible, especially in row crop fields. Year 1 study results were released in the fall of 2022, and there were only 5 participants from Illinois. We would like to help them expand the scope of the study and find more locations and types of farms across the state.

This research will help inform site-specific recommendations for improving cover crop performance in the Great Lakes.

If you or someone you know is currently growing overwintering cover crops, please consider participating.

Participation involves completing two easy steps:

1) A 15-minute online survey asking questions about soil conditions and management practices for your cover crop field.

2) A short field assessment in early spring (~20-30 minutes per field) that requires taking a few photos and height measurements of your cover crops before they are terminated.

Participants will receive:

  • $50 per cover cropped field (for up to two fields)
  • Personalized cover crop performance report, including estimated cover crop biomass and management recommendations based on the findings of the study.

For more information, watch this short video or visit the Blesh Lab website.

Please contact or complete this form if you would like to participate.

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About the Author: Stephanie Porter

As Outreach Agronomist for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Stephanie supports research efforts and helps communicate both in-field and edge-of-field research and validation studies to Illinois 43,000 soybean farmers. She also helps lead the demonstration and adoption of conservation agriculture practices and raises awareness of best management and continuous improvement practices for conservation agriculture in Illinois. Stephanie has 23 years of experience that consists of agronomy, conservation, horticulture, plant diagnostics, and education. She has her bachelor’s in crop science and master’s in plant pathology from the University of Illinois. Stephanie is a Certified Crop Advisor and was named the 2018 Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Master Soybean Advisor. She also has experience with corn and soybean pathology research, crop scouting, soil testing, as well as crop consulting. Previously, she utilized her diagnostic training and collaborated with University of Illinois departmental Extension Specialists to diagnose plant health problems and prepare written responses describing the diagnosis and management recommendations as the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.

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