Cover crops and how they are utilized are as varied as cash crops across different regions. With the rapid innovation and advances in cover crop research, college curriculums need to evolve to meet the demand for more information about cover crops.
In response to increasing use and enthusiasm for cover crops, the PSA education team is developing and offering a new undergraduate course across seven universities that connects students from across the country. The course will use cover crops as the lens through which to examine the physical, biological, and chemical processes that underpin agriculture and its impact on the environment. Designing cropping systems around cover crops, using them to drive the cropping system rather than merely trying to fit them into existing systems, will ultimately lead to a more sustainable and productive agriculture. This, however, requires that students have more than just a cursory understanding of cover crops. Such a bold vision requires that the next generation of growers and agriculture professionals have an in-depth and holistic understanding of not just the practical aspects of establishing and managing a cover crop, but of the suite of functions that cover crops provide and how those can be harnessed to drive crop productivity, profitability, and environmental protection across a range of cropping environments and agroecoregions. Our new course will provide this level of understanding and prepare students for opportunities associated with cover crops in production, research, service, industry, and policy.
This course will reach students across the US, providing them with a solid foundation in one of the key tools in the sustainability toolbox.