Updates on Late-Summer or Fall-Seeded Cover Crops

Farmers and landowners are interested in trying cover crops this fall, even those who never looked into the practice previously.  Whether or not your farm is in an area where drought conditions are impacting 2012 row crop yields you can see benefits from cover crops, provided sufficient soil moisture is available for germination and establishment of the cover crop.  Cover crops have potential to reduce soil erosion while capturing crop nutrients remaining in the soil profile.  These nutrients might otherwise be lost to surface erosion (phosphorus) or leaching to groundwater (nitrogen).  Talk to experts at your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office or your local ISU Extension Field Agronomist for more information about cover crop management.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced in the attached August 30 press release that cost-share assistance of up to $25 per acre is available for cover crop establishment.  Again, check with your local NRCS office or Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners to find out if cover crop cost-share assistance is available in your local area.

For Immediate Release                                                                       Contact:  Dustin Vande Hoef

Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012                                                       515-281-3375 or 515-326-1616 (cell)


 DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has filed an emergency rule change that includes cover crops as an eligible practice under the Iowa Financial Incentives Program (IFIP), which is commonly called cost share.  Cost sharing assistance is limited to $25 per acre for the establishment of the cover crop.

“We have seen growing interest in cover crops in recent years as a means to control erosion and reduce loss of nitrates, and with the drought this year and potential for an early harvest, we wanted to make this practice available to farmers,” Northey said.  “Farmers interested in taking advantage of this assistance should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office for more information.”

Research has shown that cover crops can be an effective management tool to control erosion from wind and water and reduce the potential for nitrate to leach into our surface waters and ground waters. Nitrate transport to streams can be particularly high after a drought period, when stressed crops may not have used all available fertilizer, or in times of excessive moisture.

It remains up to each individual Soil and Water Conservation District as to whether they will offer cost share assistance for cover crops.  And, in order to quality for cost share, the practice must meet NRCS specifications.

Although this rule change is in effect now, there is still an opportunity for public comment on the rule.  Any interested persons may submit written comments on or before 4:30 p.m. on September 11, 2012. Written comments should be addressed to Margaret Thomson, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Wallace State Office Building, 502 East Ninth Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Comments may also be submitted by fax to (515)281-6236 or by E-mail to Margaret.Thomson@IowaAgriculture.gov.

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