Cover crops are an integral component of cropping systems because they grow in the fall and early spring - that is, times when the soil would not have a growing corn or soybean crop. At present, cover crops are grown to benefit soil quality and reduce nitrate loss. In the future, ongoing research at ISU promises to identify additional benefits such as weed suppression. Cover crop acres are growing exponentially. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy highlights cover crops as a flagship strategy for nitrate loss reduction. We are working to understand how cover crops can be inserted to corn-based crop systems to maximize cash crop yield, soil quality and nutrient loss reduction.