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Sustainable Corn

Through its research, engagement of Corn Belt farmers, and publications, the project has provided farm management strategies, which farmers can put in place throughout the Corn Belt to make corn-based cropping systems more resilient to the current and predicted impacts of climate change.

Specifically, researchers studied the impacts of corn-soybean rotation, cereal rye cover crops within the corn-soybean rotation, extended and diverse crop rotations, organic corn cropping system, drainage water management, canopy nitrogen sensing, tillage management (no-till and conventional), and landscape position. Research data were collected over 5 years from 35 field research sites throughout the project area and integrated with climate science data. The management practices were evaluated by multi-disciplinary teams of project researchers. Published results included 119 findings and 59 recommendations. For example...

  • Controlled drainage can reduce offsite nitrate loss to surface water from drained cropland; the systems do not reduce the nitrate concentration in tile drains, rather a reduction in nitrate loss is a result of reduced drain flow from the land
  • Cereal rye cover crops are effective for reducing nitrate and sediment losses from a variety of cropland landscapes
  • To reduce nitrous oxide emissions in a corn-soybean system, replacement of corn with another crop, such as soybean or wheat, can achieve a greater reduction than what can be achieved solely through improved crop management
  • Farmers are generally confident in their capacity to adapt to adverse weather; highly confident farmer are less likely to have experienced negative impacts of extreme weather.

These and many other findings have been reported in 154 refereed journal articles, 212 extension publications and 995 presentations to farmers, farm advisers, K-12 educators and others, resulting in a total audience reach of ~89,824. A legacy of educational publications and videos for agricultural stakeholders and educators have been made available via land-grant university Extension online stores as free downloads. See

Release Notes

This project was active from March 1, 2011 through February 28, 2017. It is now complete. A great many materials remain on this site that will continue to be of value to farmers, educators and others interested in making corn-based agriculture more resilient in response to highly variable and severe weather.




Researcher, Extension, Producer, Land Manager

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