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Cover Crops ‘Greening Up’ Growers’ Bottom Lines

No-Till Farmer’s first-ever Cover Crop Benchmark Study shows farmers are planting green, saving on fertilizer and pesticides and protecting soils


Pictured Above: PROTECTING SOIL. Not surprisingly, cereal rye was the most popular cover crop species in most growers’ fields in 2019, whether it was used as a monoculture planting or as part of a diverse mix of species. Crimson clover, radish, oat, wheat, vetch, rapeseed and sorghum-sudangrass were also very popular depending on the U.S. region

Results of the first annual Cover Crop Benchmark Study show a healthy level of enthusiasm and success among farmers with cover crops as they seek to protect their farms from erosion, reduce input costs and improve soil health on their operations.

The 70-question survey distributed last February garnered more than 1,400 responses from farmers across the U.S., Canada and overseas. Editors at No-Till Farmer’s online sister property, Cover Crop Strategies, created the survey to highlight trends with cover crop management. Results for the survey are divided into four regions: the Corn Belt, Great Plains-West, Northeast and Southeast. In many cases editors were able to report data based on regions, which all have unique climate, regulatory and rotational challenges.

“In the coming years with subsequent surveys we’ll be able to track meaningful changes in cover crop management and allow growers to compare their own operation to those of their peers,” says No-Till Farmer editor Frank Lessiter. “No other media property has a more in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities with cover crops on farms than we do. And we’re grateful that so many farmers chose to participate.”

Among U.S. farmers…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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