Activities and research
The Cover Crops Program at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station / Michigan State University focuses on integrating cover crops into Michigan field crop systems. Our goal is to make information from research readily available so farmers can make better decisions about using cover crops on their farms.
Dean Baas is Senior Research Associate in Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. Dean is involved in cover crop and organic agriculture research and education. Farmers and commodity groups are an integral part of his projects and programs. He is a member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council Executive Committee (MCCC) and coordinates MCCC activities including the promotion of cover crop usage in the Midwest and the development of tools to assist farmers in cover crop decision-making. He is the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Coordinator for the state of Michigan coordinating and promoting SARE programs including the professional development, farmer rancher, research and education, and graduate student grant programs through the North Central Region of SARE.
He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Geosciences and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from MSU. Prior to returning to MSU for graduate study, he had a 20-year career with the Kellogg Company.
Other important contacts in Michigan
Christina Curell has worked for Michigan State University Extension for 16 years as a water quality educator. Her role primarily is assisting growers on farm and corporately on ways to minimize their farming practices risk to water quality while ensuring their farm is sustainable and profitable. Currently she is the statewide Nutrient Management and Water Quality Educator for the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute. For the past three years Christina has devoted her time to helping farmers incorporate appropriate cover crops into their cropping systems.
Paul has been County Extension Director and Field Crops Educator in Isabella County Michigan since 1991. During that time he was an active member of the Field Crops Area of Expertise Team, Cover Crops Team as well as the Forage Team. His programming has included planning, developing, and implementing field crops, cover crops, and forage research and educational programs in Isabella and surrounding counties. On farm research include corn, soybean, and wheat variety trials, tillage, nitrogen management, cover crops and soil health, and wheat fungicides. Workshop topics include integrated pest management, corn and soybean field days, commodity marketing workshops, pesticide education workshops, cost of production workshops, and farm safety programs. More recent workshops include several on cover crops and building soil health as part of the Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative. Paul is a member and past president of the Michigan Association of Extension Agents.
Erin Hill has been a research assistant with the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences since 2006. She is also currently working towards a Ph.D. in Crop and Soil Science focusing on how cover crops impact nutrient cycling and weed pressure in organic dry bean systems. Erin previously earned her M.S. in Horticulture, also from MSU, exploring the impacts of competition and allelopathy of hairy vetch and cowpea cover crops on weed communities in pickling cucumber. In addition to cover crops, Erin’s research and extension interests include sustainable weed management, weed ecology, and herbicide resistance management. Erin joined the MCCC at the inaugural meeting in 2006 and has served as the web administrator since the launch of MCCC.msu.edu in 2008.
Dale Mutch has more than 28 years of research and Extension experience in organic farming, IPM, cover crops and sustainable agriculture. He has served on the NCR-SARE Administrative Council, Technical Committee and Producer Grants Program. In July 2007, Mutch became Michigan’s Sustainable Agriculture State Coordinator for NCR-SARE. His career emphasis was on low-input and organic farming systems. His applied research focused on participatory projects that use farmer advisory teams to direct and validate the work. Mutch also managed ten OCIA-certified organic research acres.
Since Dr. Snapp joined MSU in 1999, her research and extension has prioritized understanding biological principles to improve cropping system design, including enhanced winter cover through cover crops and perennial grain crops. This includes investigating which cover crop species work best for different soil types and cropping systems, and improving our understanding of root traits that promote phosphorus and nitrogen efficiency as well as healthy crops. Predicting availability of nitrogen and phosphorus in sustainable farming systems is of particular interest. Dr. Snapp coordinates a website at MSU on applied soil ecology management http://www.safs.msu.edu/soilecology/index.htm. Partnerships are central to her approach, involving farmers, educators and researchers working together to improve options for sustainable management.
Selection of cover crops used in various systems in Michigan
Clovers and Medic:
Michigan State University cover crops website:
Michigan State University Extension (bulletins)