Cover Crops for Sustainable Southern Agroecosystems (S-1085)

Farmer evaluating cover crops grown at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, FL
(PC: K. Sattanno)


Multistate HATCH project S-1085 guides the research efforts of the Southern Cover Crops Council. The research will result in increased cover crop options for the southern region and improved knowledge about how, where, and when cover crops should be used in order to optimize benefits and minimize tradeoffs. Research results will contribute to the development educational materials and databases, and the creation of new decision tools and/or modification of existing tools with direct applicability to the southern region. Related extension and outreach will involve improved SCCC platforms for communication with farmers and ranchers and enhanced peer-to-peer knowledge exchange among farmers and ranchers. The integrated networks of farmers, university researchers, USDA ARS researchers, and USDA NRCS personnel researchers fostered by the multistate project and facilitated by the SCCC will contribute an expansion in acreage on which cover crops are successfully implemented.


  1. Identify a common set of biological, chemical, physical, and economic measures and indicators that can be applied across crop and cover crop combinations throughout the region to generate a region-wide database.

  2. Select and evaluate summer and winter cover crop germplasm for regional adaptability and determine the appropriate timing of planting, utilization of cover crop goods (includes grazing), and termination to optimize benefits without adversely affecting cash crop cycles.

  3. Assess the influence of cover crops on soil moisture, nutrient cycling, and soil microbiology.

  4. Characterize cover crop efficacy for enhancing cropping system resilience to weeds, pests, and plant pathogens.

This work is supported by HATCH project no. FLA-HOS-006004, Multistate no. S-1085, from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.