The New $867 Billion Farm Bill Includes Benefits for No-Tilling, Strip-Tilling, Terminating Cover Crops, Improving Soil Health and Sequestering More Carbon

While much has been written on the economic aspects of the 2018 Farm Bill, the legislation included a number of items of special interest to no-tillers. Probably the most important one is new language specifically defining the rules for cover crop termination.

Passed in mid-December, the 807-page $867 billion Farm Bill (that’s more than $1 billion per page) offers new opportunities for no-till, strip-till, soil health, carbon sequestration and their impact on climate change.

Cover Crop Language

The new Farm Bill provides badly needed language improvements within the federal crop insurance program in regard to managing cover crops. These clarifications will make it easier for no-tillers to manage risks while protecting soil and water quality.

In the past, there’s been considerable confusion regarding insurance coverage when no-tillers have used cover crops, largely regarding the rules meant for cover crop termination. In interpreting the old rules, some adjustors went so far as to argue the use of cover crops invalidated insurance protection for the next crop. In some instances, the cover crop was determined to be the main crop.

Under the old definition, it wasn’t clear when cover crop growth actually ended. Was it when the herbicide was applied? When 50% of the field was dead? Or not until every single cover crop plant has died?

“We could never get a straight answer in regard to cover crop termination from the Risk Management Agency,” says Ryan Stockwell, the director of sustainable agriculture for the National Wildlife Federation and a no-tiller in…

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