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While a winter rye cover crop protects the soil from wind and rain, the benefits don’t stop there. In fact, a series of ongoing USDA studies started in 2015 suggest that seeding cereal rye cover crop between corn and soybeans can reduce nitrate losses, sequester carbon and provide a source of renewable natural gas.
Data from the No-Till Farmer 2023 No-Till Operational Benchmark study shows cereal rye was the most popular cover crop species with use by 78% of growers (p. 11).
Robert Malone, an ag engineer with the USDA National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa, and a team of 15 researchers studied rotations of corn and soybean with or without winter rye cover crops. Studies done at 40 sites across the North Central U. S. show the following: