Cover crop performance depends largely on management factors that must be customized to particular farm situations and, therefore, is suited for on-farm research, with farmers involved in both management and evaluation. Cover crop sequences that were successful in a research station study were tested over a variety of soils and management strategies in collaboration withfarmers. The two-year cover crop sequences consisted of a short-season crop followed by a cover crop in year one and corn in year two. The cover crops themselves were evaluated by their agronomic and economic performance and their acceptance by farmers. Four cover crop systems (companionseeded red clover, sequentially seeded hairy vetch, sequentially seeded oat, and fallow) were compared for ground cover, above-ground biomass and above-ground nitrogen yield, subsequent corn grain yield, and N fertilizer replacement value (N-FRV). Cover crops were essential for erosion control following vegetable crops and tillage, but were not necessary following small grains. Companion-seeded red clover produced the most ground cover, yielded up to 133 kg N/ha, and had a higher average N-FRV than sequentially seeded hairy vetch on sandy loam soils, but was not preferred by farmers who harvested small grain straw as well as grain. Sequentially seeded hairy vetch gave excellent cover when no-till seeded, produced more than 125 kg N/ha in half the siteyears, and had a higher average N-FRV than companion-seeded red clover on silt loam soils. First-year N-FRV for the legume cover crops averaged 67 kg N/ha over both soil types. The participating farmers indicated that their decisions to adopt cover crops would be based primarily on their need for ground cover, and secondarily on the profitability of using cover crops as an N source. However, when valued solely as an N source for the next year's crop (and not for any potential long-term benefits), cover crops were not an economical alternative to N fertilizer. We suggest focusing future cover crop research and extension efforts on outreach to farmers growing crops that do not provide sufficient ground cover, such as short-season vegetable crops, and optimizing the cover crop system to maximize its erosion control benefits and increase its profitability over N fertilizer.