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11 Tips for Getting Started with Cover Crops

With two decades of cover cropping experience under his belt, Illinois farmer Adam Dahmer shares his advice and suggestions for those new to the practice.

Adam Dahmer was born into a farming operation in Marion, Ill., that was already 100% no-till 3 years before he was born. By the time Dahmer started farming with his family in the 1990s, cover crops had become an integral part of the operation.

Now, in addition to farming, Dahmer runs his own cover crop seed and equipment company, Advance Cover Crops, to help other farmers excel with the practice. In a presentation for the first National Cover Crop Summit, Dahmer shared 11 tips from his 2 decades of cover cropping to help beginners use them with success.

1. Connect with an Honorable Seed Company

Dahmer started his own cover crop business after he saw farmers getting bad information when they started cover cropping. He tells growers they need to find a seed company that provides superior products, excellent service and honest information, even if it might be more expensive.

Just last year, Dahmer had to inform a grower that the “ryegrass” another company sold him was actually a turf variety.

“I understand it’s a lot cheaper, but the turf grass won’t provide the benefits to the soil that you could get with another type of ryegrass,’” Dahmer recalls. “You’ve got to pay attention to what you’re planting.”

2. Start with Cereal Rye

Calling it the backbone of almost every farm’s cover crop program, Dahmer says cereal rye is the best thing for farmers to start with as they transition their farm, due to its relatively simple management and the…

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Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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