Project ID



Cover crops have been proposed as a good option to improve water quality, decrease soil erosion and increase soil productivity in Iowa fields. This project uses a cropping system model to test those proposals while allowing for potential effects of climate change on cropping systems at the same time.

Key Question

What are the long-term impacts of a cover crop on soil and crop yields in corn and soybean crop rotations?


A cropping systems model platform, using field data from a research site in central Iowa, predicted that the continuous use of a winter rye cover crop in a corn-soybean crop rotation did not increase or decrease crop yields. It did reduce soil erosion by 18-29 percent, decreased nitrous oxide emissions by up to 34 percent and reduced soil carbon decline by three percent over the 45-year simulation period.

Principal Investigator(s)

Fernando Miguez, ISU Agronomy


Sotiris Archontoulis and Andrea Basche, ISU Agronomy

Year of Grant Completion