welcome to beyond agronomy!


    How to Estimate Nitrogen from Cover Crops

     At Prairie Creek Seed, we know the value of continually learning and sharing information. The following methodology comes from Associate Professor Julie Grossman and her team of grad students at the University of Minnesota Department of Horticulture Science. We love the way this process was put together and look forward to seeing what estimates you can all get from your cover crops!

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    1.  Sample your biomass

              1.  Create a square to measure a known area

              2.  Take off the above ground growth in that area a few times throughout the field.

              3.  Dry the sample until it is crunchy and weigh it

    2. Convert to biomass lbs per acre


    3. Calculate how much nitrogen is in that material using this table: 


    Cover Crop




    Hairy Vetch, Clovers, Peas

    4% at flowering

    3% as seeds are maturing

    Non-Legume Grasses

    Cereal Rye, Oats, Sudangrass

    3% at flowering

    2% as seeds are maturing

    Non-Legume Broadleaves

    Buckwheat, Radish, Turnip

    Similar or less than grasses


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    4. Estimate how much will be available in 1 year. We retain 50% of available N when residue is incorporated and 40% when unincorporated.



    Lbs N  0.50 = Lbs available in 1 Year

    Lbs N  0.40 = Lbs available in 1 Year

            You can also skip the last three steps and get an estimate using our Nitrogen Calculator Tool. All you need there is your dry sample weight and area measured! Do keep in mind that these are estimates and many factors go into to N fixation and release including variety, weather, nitrogen applications, and geographical location.