Discussion Continues On Value Of Cover Crops

Mark Carlton, Field Agronomist with Iowa State Extension and Outreach talks with local farmers near Oskaloosa about cover crops.

Mark Carlton, Field Agronomist with Iowa State Extension and Outreach talks with local farmers near Oskaloosa about cover crops.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Farmers from around the area congregated at the Russell Plate farm on Tuesday afternoon to learn more about cover crops and how they could impact the local farmer, water quality and help protect against erosion.

Mark Carlton, Field Agronomist with Iowa State Extension and Outreach was one of the speakers Tuesday about cover crops.

Cover crops are used between “harvesting our corn and soybeans and by the time we replant another crop next spring, that everything out there is brown and any plant material is basically dead. The idea is to plant probably a winter cereal like rye, wheat or triticale that fills that gap with living plant material.”

This helps to put more root material into the soil says Carlton. “Which kind of excites the natural biological soil flora. Keeps it active.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has been helping lead the way on water quality initiatives in the state. The EPA had expressed concerns over the quality of water in Iowa, and the state initiated a voluntary water quality strategy. This strategy will offer matching funds to farmers that implement practices that help to increase the water quality by such measures as planting ground cover.

Carlton talked about how cover crops help to utilize excess nutrients, “so it doesn’t get in the water supply.”

Another benefit Carlton said was ground cover during the winter months and into the spring when heavy rains often happen and soil erosion is most common. “We’re kind of using that in-between our other crops to kindof protect the soils and to actually improve the soils.”

As with any other work done on a farm, it comes at a cost, and Carlton said he has yet to see any data that shows an increase in yields from the utilization of cover crops. “The benefits over time is we maintain the quality of soil in the field. Hopefully we improve it.”

Carlton did say there would be some economic benefit if a farmer who also raises livestock would graze the fields.

The thought with cover crops is that the long term benefit is the protection of the crop group, with the intent of improving its long term sustainability.

Comments

comments

Posted by on Mar 26 2014. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed

Search Archive

Search by Date
Search by Category
Search with Google
Log in | Copyright by Oskaloosa News