Gridlock may be worse than ever among our elected leaders in Washington, but no-tillers may soon benefit from some unusual cooperation among USDA agencies and stakeholders in agriculture.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has released new guidelines on the termination of cover crops that provide better information on how covers should be managed in different U.S. climates.

The guidelines — which don’t address specific species of covers —were issued after a USDA task force was convened this year to address contradictions among federal agencies on the use of cover crops, particularly as it pertains to crop insurance.

The Risk Management Authority has yet to answer the crop-insurance question, but will take the new guidelines into account before deciding if, and how, the agency’s policies will be revised.

It’s our hope the presence of these guidelines will shed some light on ongoing concerns and questions about covers. Among other things, no-tillers with a history of success with cover crops could tap the approval of “local experts” to possibly gain some flexibility with termination dates as planting approaches.

The state-by-state guidelines may also address some confusion for no-tillers about when to terminate cover crops in moisture-limited environments, without hurting the viability of the following cash crop.

Click here to download the guidelines, and let me know what you think — or what questions you might have. We’ll search for the answers.

John Dobberstein,
Managing Editor
No-Till Farmer