Making cover crops work for each farmer

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Farmers across Iowa and the Midwest are learning how and whether to use cover crops, and the reports that are coming from various sources is that each farm and farmer’s system is different. There are no sure-fire how-to do it points to follow.

Tim Kaldenberg, an Albia, Iowa, farmer, is extensively quoted in an article in Iowa Farmer Today written by Gene Lucht. The editor also quoted Sarah Carlson, Midwest cover crop research coordinator for Practical Farmers of Iowa, and Tom Kaspar, a plant physiologist at the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (formerly the soil tilth lab) in Ames, Iowa.

“Really, the first thing you should do if considering a cover crop is to decide what the goal is,” Carlson is quoted as saying.

Lucht wrote, “For some farmers, the goal may be providing forage for livestock. For others it may be reducing erosion. For some it may be improving soil quality or providing wildlife habitat. It may be an attempt at double-cropping. For many it may be some combination of those ideas.”

Obviously ag retailers and crop consultants can play a role in helping individual farmers such as Kaldenberg, each of which has their own various goals. The Midwest Cover Crops Council has an online cover crop decision tool at www.mccc.msu.edu that can be useful to everyone.

To read the full Iowa Farmer Today article click here.


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