Our webinar on Wednesday featured Sarah Carlson, Strategic Initiatives Director at Practical Farmers of Iowa, who explained how cover crops and be a win-win for cash crops and the environment.
Cover crops can address water quality concerns, reduce soil erosion, and improve soil health. The figure above, from Carlson’s presentation, shows the effectiveness of cover crops at reducing nitrate in tile lines (10 mg/L is the drinking water standard). Despite these long term benefits, cover crops are not a widely used practice.
During the webinar, Carlson explained that low cover crop adoption may be linked to the amount of rented farmland in Iowa. Due to the nature of renting, renters need to see benefits to cover crops “tomorrow” rather than over the long term. Messaging about the benefits of cover crops that focuses on long term benefits will not increase adoption in areas where the majority of farmland is rented.
Carlson shared the highlights from several research projects that assess the more immediate benefits of cover crops. These short term benefits include reduced herbicide costs, weed control, as well as the effect of different cover crop termination dates ahead of soybean planting on yield. The results of these projects have indicated that cover crops can reduce herbicide costs (in some instances paying for themselves with the savings) and can offer weed control in the instance of herbicide-resistant plants.
To learn more about these research projects, their results, and the benefits of cover crops, watch the full webinar!
Join us on Wednesday, November 4 for a webinar with Adam Schnieders, water quality resource coordinator with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, titled “Nutrient Reduction Progress at Iowa Wastewater Treatment Facilities.”