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The Root Project

In the fall of 2020, we launched The Root Project and have been overwhelmed with the response from all our conservation partners and friends! Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative is a proponent of using cover crops in farming operations as they are an essential part of healthy soil. Cover crops help minimize soil erosion, suppress weeds, enhance water availability, provide protection against pests and disease, increase biodiversity in the soil and provide a number of other benefits.

As part of our ongoing efforts to educate, train and inform producers and partners about improving soil health on Indiana cropland, we've developed a graphic showing the cross-sectional view of several popular and effective cover crops, highlighting the average root structure. Included in the image are the common name and the scientific name of the following cover crop species: Annual Ryegrass, Cereal Rye, Wheat, Oats, Oilseed Radish, Daikon Radish, Buckwheat, Sunflower, Hairy Vetch, Barley, Winter Pea, Rapeseed and Favabean.

We love driving across the state and spotting fields of cover crops growing knowing all the benefits they bring to the farming operation. What’s even more impressive, though, is what those plants bring to the operation below the surface. Even cover crops that don’t have impressive above ground emergence can be working their magic below. That’s why we think a graphic showing the average root structure can be so powerful in delivering the message about the benefits of cover crops to a healthy soil.

This high-quality graphic is extremely detailed and scalable. It's available for non-commercial use in your applications for presentations, seminars and workshops when cover crops are discussed. Please visit our website to view and download The Root Project: The graphic is available for download free of charge. We do gladly accept donations to help offset the cost of production. If you are inclined to offer a donation, please visit:

Compiled by Conservation Cropping Systems, Indianapolis, IN (; Produced by Big Picture Studio, Downingtown, PA ( Rev. 20200624. Based on original drawings by Erwin Lichtenegger. 7th Root Atlas (Kutschera et al. 2009, 2018). Published at DLG Verlag, Frankfurt ( Wageningen University & Research Image Collections ( Plant Sociological lnstitute (http://wurze! via Creative Commons {CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Sheila Schroeder

CCSI Northern Program Manager

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