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Soybeans as a cover crop

From the USDA RMA website (https://www.rma.usda.gov/News-Room/Frequently-Asked-Questions/Prevented-Planting-Flooding)


  1. Can I plant a cover crop of the same crop I was prevented from planting? Or in other words, can I use the seed I have on hand (corn, soybeans, wheat) to plant a cover crop as long as it’s at a lower seeded rate that qualifies for cover crop?
  2. Yes. An acceptable cover crop must be generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement is planted at the recommended seeding rate, etc. The cover crop may be the same crop prevented from planting and may still retain eligibility for a prevented planting payment. The cover crop planted cannot be used for harvest as seed or grain.”

Soybean is an acceptable cover crop as it is agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement.

To optimize the use of soybean as a cover crop, consider the following:

  • Planting dates. USDA NRCS cover crop practice guidelines state that soybean should be planted between June 15 and Aug. 15 in northern Ohio and June 1 and Aug. 30 in southern Ohio.
  • Plant in narrow rows. The USDA NRCS cover crop practice guidelines do not specify a row width for a soybean cover crop, but planting in less than 30-inch rows will maximize ground cover and improve weed suppression. Do not broadcast treated seed. We want to minimize the risk of seed treatment exposure to non-target organisms.
  • Seeding rate. USDA NRCS cover crop guidelines indicate that soybean should be seeded at 54 pounds per acre if to be planted as a pure stand (100% soybean) cover crop. At a seed size of 2,800 seeds per pound, this would be a seeding rate of ~151,000 seeds per acre. Higher rates may be used; however, seed treatment labels may limit the amount of active ingredient per acre which can impact upper seeding rate limits.
  • Check your license agreement and talk with your seed dealer. Most trait licenses have a clause stating that the crop can be used for “one commercial crop.” You will want to verify with your seed dealer that the cover crop represents a commercial crop prior to planting.

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One comment

  1. Shinobu Kumagai Prow

    My cats might love to use soybean litter . Some of natural fiber litter bags sold now are not that cheap. If we can grind-up corn and other grains for cat litter then soybeans should be good with my cats. If your co-op lab can come up with this new product using soybeans for my cats, that will be great. In the meantime, I will try to remember delicious recipes using soybeans such as Edamame (steamed in bean sacks) as a beer appetizer and sweet bean paste for pastries and certainly Tofu.

    If you are interested further let me know.

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