The hidden land use cost of upscaling cover crops

Bryan C. Runck, Colin K. Khoury, Patrick M. Ewing, Michael Kantar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Cover cropping is considered a cornerstone practice in sustainable agriculture; however, little attention has been paid to the cover crop production supply chain. In this Perspective, we estimate land use requirements to supply the United States maize production area with cover crop seed, finding that across 18 cover crops, on average 3.8% (median 2.0%) of current production area would be required, with the popular cover crops rye and hairy vetch requiring as much as 4.5% and 11.9%, respectively. The latter land requirement is comparable to the annual amount of maize grain lost to disease in the U.S. We highlight avenues for reducing these high land use costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number300
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 11 2020

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© 2020, The Author(s).


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