In addition to the monetary impact, there may be environmental benefits to growing crimson clover. Anderson said some research suggests nitrogen from plants is more stable and less vulnerable to leaching into water sources than that from manufactured fertilizer.

Europe has already begun to restrict nitrogen fertilizer, and Behrman believes it’s only a matter of time until similar restrictions turn up in the U.S. A cover crop can prevent up to 98 percent of runoff, Anderson said. Crimson clover, with its nitrogen-building capability, could be an especially beneficial cover – and that’s the message the team has been trying to spread.

"There's an opportunity here, and we’re optimistic about the prospects," Behrman said. 

Other benefits of crimson clover as a cover crop include erosion control, improved moisture-holding capacity and increased soil organic matter.

Crimson clover could also be a boon to organic farms, which usually use alternative nutrient sources such as composts, meals or manures for fertilizer.