Cover crops are rapidly becoming more popular with American farmers for these reasons
5 ways that cover crops benefit growers
It’s undeniable that the use of cover crops is on the rise in America. Increased regulatory pressure, environmental awareness and a shift to a more holistic cropping approach are all part of the rationale behind adding cover crops to the rotation. But what are the actual benefits of cover crops? And how can you make sure that you measure the positive effects on your farm and let this translate into improved financial results?
1: Cover crops help your soil recover from flooding
Having crops growing in a field will stimulate the microorganism production within the soil, helps control weeds, regulates soil temperature and increases the soil water holding capacity which reduces erosion in future weather events. It is therefore advisable to plant a crop as soon as field conditions allow after a flooding event. Many growers were too late to plant corn, soybeans or another cash crop this year due to flooding during planting time; these prevent planting hectares can benefit enormously from having a cover crop planted instead.
2: You are still eligible for MFP payments when you plant a cover crop
If you weren’t able to plant a cash crop this year due to adverse field conditions and filed a prevented planting claim, you can still plant an FSA-certified cover crop without losing the right to your MFP payment. Your cover crops must have been planted by August 1st, 2019 to be considered eligible.
3: Planting cover crops offers you year-round flexibility
When it comes to cover crops, there are many different options. You can plant winter-kill cover crops after your wheat is taken off, fly on cereal cover crops before your corn canopy closes or plant feed-friendly cover crops in the fall and harvest them spring for livestock or burn-down early spring for improved soil health. So, whatever time of year it may be, there is always a cover crop solution that fits your situation!
4: Cover crops help you prevent nitrogen run-off
Nitrogen in shallow groundwater is becoming an important issue in many areas and cover crops are a good tool in most rotations to take up nitrogen left in the topsoil after harvest. Next to helping improve the quality of nearby bodies of water, cover crops can also help save you on your inputs as small amounts of nitrogen do return back into the soil when plants break down next spring.
5: Cover crops help you with a long-term strategy
Cover crops support a thriving soil microbial community, add to soil carbon and improve nitrogen availability; nutrients will cycle over time and might make it possible for you to reduce the amount of nitrogen you have to apply. It is important however to accurately document your cropping strategy and input usage in a Decision Support System that allows you to track these improvements over time and offers you metrics to fine-tune your nitrogen applications and other inputs.
How can a Decision Support System help you track your soil improvements through cover crops?
Agworld is one of the world’s most used and best rated Farm Management Platforms. Producers throughout the United States utilize Agworld to track their soil improvements and enhance their financial results. Curious how? We'd be happy to show you a quick demo of what America's farming future looks like.