More Cover Crops, More Profit

After 4 days of intensive interest in no-till and cover crops at the mid-January 25th anniversary National No-Tillage Conference, it was encouraging to recognize interest in cover crops continues to grow.

The results of the recently released 2015-16 Cover Crop Survey, compiled by the Conservation Technology Information Center and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education, confirm this. Data from over 2,000 growers, crop consultants and other ag professionals indicates cover crop usage continues to grow and is not impacted by commodity prices.

Profit Builders

Some 81% of surveyed growers have used cover crops. Nearly one-third believe cover crops have increased profitability compared to 6% who felt covers decreased in profits.

Some 35% of respondents were in a continuous no-till program while 17% did rotational no-tillage. Another 6% were doing vertical tillage, 23% reduced tillage and 19% were still doing conventional tillage.

Two-thirds felt cover crops play a key role in reducing yield variability with cash crops during extreme weather events.

Cereal rye was the leading cover crop species used, with 82% growers seeding it, followed by radishes and winter wheat.

Some 82% say cereal rye helped reduce weed problems and 26% say it improved control of troublesome herbicide-resistant weeds.

About 78% have increased their use of cover-crop mixes over the years. Only 5% have decreased the use of mixes.

Higher Yields

For the fourth year in a row, growers reported yield increases with both corn and soybeans following cover crops. Yields for corn grown after cover crops averaged 180.2 bushels per…

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Lessiter_frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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