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To Grow US Cover Crop Acreage & Improve Soil Health, the Quickest, Most Cost-Efficient Way is to Get More Growers to See the Dozens of Benefits of No-Tilling

Each year, we conduct in-depth benchmark surveys of our No-Till Farmer (NTF), Strip-Till Farmer (STF) and Cover Crop Strategies (CCS) readers. Our goal is to provide valuable insights on what these growers are thinking and to serve as an up-to-date measurement of their cropping practices

With cover crop information being of great interest these days, we felt it would be interesting to compare how these three audiences use cover crops. We also compared these results with the latest 2019-20 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) national cover crop survey data. SARE will be releasing data from their 2022-23 survey in mid-August.

More No-Till, More Cover Crops. Some 88% of the CCS audience seeded cover crops in 2022, while 93% of SARE growers seeded covers in 2019. By comparison, 83% of no-tillers and 61% of strip-tillers seeded cover crops in 2022. This compares to only 8% of all U.S. farmers utilizing cover crops, seeding them on around 6% of all U.S. row crop acres.

When it came to cover crop acres seeded in 2022, strip-tillers averaged 529 acres. This was followed by 504 acres for no-tillers, 458 acres for CCS growers and 465 acres for SARE respondents. This represented 49% of row crop acres seeded with cover crops for the CCS audience, followed by 43% of no-tillers and 30% of strip-tillers.

As expected, there’s a direct relationship between cover crops and the adoption of no-till and strip-till. Among no-tillers, 15% also strip-till and 15% use vertical tillage. With strip-tillers, 77%  also…

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