In North Dakota, our perennial grasslands consist of cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses and flowering forbs. Consequently, adaptable plants are able to grow during the cool spring and fall weather, as well as the summer heat. This allows for a continual live plant feeding carbon exudates to the soil food web during the entire growing season.
Our cropland systems typically grow cool- or warm-season annual cash crops, which have a dormant period before planting and/or after harvest. Cover crops are able to fill in the dormant period and provide the missing live root exudate, which is the primary food source for the soil food web.
Cover crops may be incorporated into a cropping system as annuals, biennials or perennials. Starting on a small acre scale will allow farmers and ranchers to find the best fit for their operation.