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Activities and research

Researchers from North Dakota State University and the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan are investigating agronomic, environmental, and economic impacts of cover crops in ND’s semi-arid cropping systems.  We are evaluating the influence of root crops, warm and cool season grasses, warm and cool season legumes, and non-mycorrhizal and mycorrhizal broadleaf species as cover crops planted individually and in mixtures.  Research is also being conducted on cover crop termination techniques and intercropping methods of establishing cash crops into cover crops.  Our initial interest in cover crop research was motivated by the work of ND farmers who turned to cover crops as a way to retain soil moisture, build soil structure, protect against soil erosion, reduce chemical inputs, and enhance nutrient cycling on their farms. 


Selection of Cover Crops Used in North Dakota

Warm Season Grasses

  • Proso millet (Proso Millet in North Dakota, A-805 (revised), July 2007 by Duane R. Berglund, Professor Emeritus and Former Extension Agronomist)
  • Sorghum sudan
  • Pearl millet

Cool Season Grasses – (

Warm Season Legumes

  • Soybean
  • Cowpea (Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2008, pp. 106-110; available online here pdf logo)

Cool Season Legumes

  • Lentil 
  • Field pea
  • Hairy Vetch

Non-mycorrhizal Broadleaves

  • Winter canola

Mycorrhizal Broadleaves

  • Sunflower

Root Crops

  • Pasja turnip
  • Purpletop turnip
  • Oilseed Radish


North Dakota state representative

Marisol Berti

Marisol Berti, Associate Professor
North Dakota State University
Loftsgard Hall 270A
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Phone: 701-231-6110
Click here to visit Dr. Berti's NDSU website.

Other important contacts and programs in North Dakota

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MCCC Report


North Dakota State University

Other links

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Other important contacts and programs in North Dakota

Dr. Patrick Carr

Dr. Patrick Carr
Associate Agronomist
1089 State Avenue
Dickinson, ND 58601

Phone: (701) 483-2581

Dr. Patrick Carr – Dr. Carr is the station agronomist at the Dickinson Research Extension Center.  His research responsibilities include development of organic and conventional cropping systems at the Center and at off-station locations.  His current research interests include cover crop management in both organic and conventional systems.  One cover crops experiment is a  matrix study designed to evaluate effects of cover crop species individually and in mixtures for ND cropping systems in southwestern North Dakota.  The matrix study is a collaborative effort with USDA-ARS scientists at the Northern Great Plains Research Center in Mandan, ND.  Dr. Carr is an adjunct professor of sustainable agriculture in both the Department of Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University, and in the Department of Agriculture and Technical Studies at Dickinson Sate University.  He is a past member of the administrative council of NCR-SARE.


Dr. Don Talaka

Dr. Don Tanaka
Research Soil Scientist
Room 203
Hwy. 6 South
Mandan, ND 58554-0459

Phone: (701) 667-3063

Dr. Don Tanaka – Dr. Don Tanaka is a Research Soil Scientist at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plain Research Laboratory, Mandan, ND.  He has pioneered no-till crop sequence research to take advantage of soil/crop ecology interactions, and in doing so, contributed to a significant evolution in cropping system research where production synergies lead to increased crop production, lower input requirements, and an enhanced natural resource base.  Dr. Tanaka is currently implementing a cover crop matrix study to evaluate the effects of cover crop species individually and in combinations for ND cropping systems.


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