NRCS Practice Standard: Cover Crop (340)
About the Company:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s primary private lands conservation agency. The NRCS helps producers protect and conserve natural resources on private lands through voluntary conservation programs. Through Practice Standards and technical guides, the NRCS provides information about the conservation, energy resources, and provides personalized advice to individual producers.
The NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides technical and financial assistance to producers as they implement NRCS Conservation Practice Standards.
Technical guides used in each field office are localized so that they apply specifically to the geographic area for which they are prepared. Thus, while national guidelines have been provided as a framework for each standard, each state has adopted and modified the conservation practice standards to suit their individual landscape.
To find a local NRCS Service center click here.
To find the specific guideline for each state click here.
About the Solution:
Cover Crop (340)
Cover crop is growing a crop of grass, small grain, or legumes primarily for seasonal protection and soil improvement.
Cover and green manure crops are grown on land where seasonal or long-term benefits of a cover crop are needed.
This practice is used to control erosion, add fertility and organic material to the soil, improve soil tilth, increase infiltration and aeration of the soil, and improve overall soil health. The practice is also used to increase populations of bees for pollination purposes. Cover and green manure crops have beneficial effects on water quantity and quality. Cover crops have a filtering effect on movement of sediment, pathogens, and dissolved and sediment-attached pollutants.
Operation and maintenance of cover crops include controlling weeds by mowing or by using other pest management techniques, and managing for the efficient use of soil moisture by selecting water-efficient plant species and terminating the cover crop before excessive transpiration. Use of the cover crop as a green manure crop to cycle nutrients will impact when to terminate the cover to match release of nutrient with uptake by following cash crop.
Common Associated Practices
NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) Cover Crop (Code 340) is commonly applied with other conservation practices such as:
To view the national NRCS standard for Cover Crop please click here.
Solution Strengths, Weaknesses and Critical Indicators
NOTE: There are multiple technologies that are used as part of integrated manure management systems and yet are not manure management types on their own. The impact of these technologies on their own would be minimal or very difficult to quantify.
General Support & Other:
- Can be an integral part of many manure management systems
- Most projects have at least some equipment that supports operations of the main technology
- This technology is not evaluated on its own, the NEAT Matrix for this technology is neutral unless utilized with other technologies.
Newtrient is using the USDA-NRCS conservation practice standards as tools to assist dairy producers in understanding the standards and how they can be used to address resources concerns.
To establish a Practice Standard a system or practice must be thoroughly vetted, approved, and standardized by the USDA at the federal and state level. These conservation practices have been developed to address various environmental resource concerns. Newtrient has developed a 9-point scoring process for ranking additives, practices, services, and technologies for the dairy industry. Recognizing the rigorous approval procedure used during the development of the NRCS Practice Standards, many of them score very highly and are worthy of consideration on any dairy where they apply.
The information provided here is a summary of the selected conservation practices. For up to date and detailed information related to the full Practice Standards, please see the USDA NRCS website, linked above.
1. OPERATIONAL HISTORY