Cover Crops Clare Lindahl Executive Director, Conservation Districts of Iowa Cover Crops: Benefits Cover bare ground preventing erosion, loss of soil from wind & water Fixes N, making it available for succeeding cash crop Keep P & N in your system Protects water resources Reduce fertilizer needs/ costs Cover Crops: Benefits Improve soil health Enhancing the nutrient system (P & N) Plant & residue conserve soil moisture Reduce compaction, encourage infiltration Increase organic matter, increase biological activity Improve yields Tillage Radish Oats Biological activity in soil Cover Crops: Benefits Can suppress weeds by providing competition, shading & allelopathic characteristics Encourage beneficial biological activity/microbial life in soil, discourage disease Encourage beneficial insects, prey on pests Reduce need/cost for herbicides & pesticides Cover Crops: Benefits Provides opportunity for producers with livestock to graze or hay Opportunities for Iowa businesses Provides winter food and cover for birds & other wildlife Cover Crops: Areas of continued research Research & results specific to Iowa Quantifying environmental & on farm benefits Timing & management Species & mixes Cover Crops: Assistance 2011 Resolution to CDI, in place 2012 Allows for Districts to use up to 25% of their IFIP funds for establishment of a cover crop Up to $25/acres To be used on the same acres only once 2012 46 Districts participated $277,020.19 was spent 13,068.48 acres installed Cover Crops: Assistance Cost share funds through EQIP Flat rate per acre Payment varies by cover crop species used Different initiatives result in payment ranges from $28.71 to $97.54 per acre Can get it on the same acres every year for a maximum of three consecutive years Usually no caps, could be local cap 4000 acres (4 years ago) to 50,000 acres last year (Wallaces Farmer) Cover Crops: Indiana INDIANA 1 million acres of cover crops! Cover Crops: Insurance To qualify for federal crop insurance on your spring/cash crop: Crop (other than cover crop) must be terminated before any of the crop reaches the headed or budded stage Cover Crop can not be hayed, grazed or harvested past May 10 Cover Crop must be terminated (herbicide or tillage) before planting spring crop (USDA-RMA, IA, MN & WI, 2013) Contact your crop insurance agent! Cover Crops: Promotion Lead by example! Take notes and share your story Hold or promote Field Days on Cover Crops Bring attention to Cover Crops Talk to the private sector about Cover Crop business opportunities Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) & Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) PA-www.lancastereaglegazette.com MD - www.mda.maryland.gov Cover Crops: Promotion Think outside the box! OH - farmprogress.com IN - plantcovercrops.com Cover Crops: Resources Practical Farmers of Iowa, www.practicalfarmers.org, select Field Crops (left side of screen), select Cover Crops (first topic in Center of Page) Managing Cover Crops Profitably Cover Crop Business Directory Adding a Cover Crop to a Corn-Soybean System in Iowa (25 minute video) Midwest Cover Crops Council, www.mccc.msu.edu New Iowa Cover Crop Decision Tools: web-based systems to assist farmers in selecting cover crops to include in field crop and vegetable rotations. Thank you!