Home 5 Ag Stories Expanding cover crop acres

Expanding cover crop acres

Photo Courtesy of the Iowa Seed Association

The Iowa Seed Association, in conjunction with the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Iowa Corn Growers Association, work to increase cover crops with the seed corn cropping system.

The farm organizations, in 2016, established the Iowa Seed Corn Cover Crop Initiative, which provides financial, technical and informational assistance to help increase cover crop adoption within the seed corn cropping system.

Shannon Moeller, project coordinator for the Iowa Seed Corn Cover Crop Initiative, says the project has garnered success.

“In our first year, we had nine companies agree to partner with us in promoting this project. In that year, we had 300-percent actual participation compared to anticipated participation. We continued to increase those acres in 2017. We had cover crops on about 50,000 acres after seed corn production. We are estimating, going into spring, between a quarter and a third of Iowa’s total seed corn production having cover crops on them,” Moeller said.

The Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network is partnering with the Iowa Seed Association to highlight the early successes of this project. Anna Hastert, farm broadcaster with the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network, will travel across the state to meet with farmers participating in the Iowa Seed Corn Cover Crop Initiative.

Moeller provides a glimpse of who I will be visiting with, as well as how cover crops play an integral role in each operation.

“Our first grower is Chris Bowman. Chris and his father farm in Clinton County. They grow seed corn, and commercial corn and soybeans. They are using cover crops before both corn and soybeans. That’s interesting, and has quite a learning curve with it,” Moeller said.

“Tim Burrack farms in Fayette County. He has expanded his cover crop use, using cover crops on other acres as well,” Moeller said. “One of our goals for the project would be that growers, if successful with cover crops following seed corn harvest, would move into their commercial areas and have more cover crops in the following years. Tim is living that out.”

“Next, we have Chuck Cornelius. His family (makes up) Cornelius Seeds, in Jackson County,” Moeller said. “Chuck’s family has cattle, and they integrate cover crops with their seed corn production, and then utilize those cover crops for livestock feed. That’s an interesting perspective and of course, a system that can make sense dollar and cents wise.”

The project, called the “Row Crop Run,” will feature 10 farmers, who use cover crops differently. Our Network will follow these growers from plant to harvest.

Moeller says at the end of this, “It’s important to understand, there is a way to incorporate cover crops into any farming system.”

“I think it’s important to know that even though we’re talking about a system, which (provides) a little more opportunity for growth in the fall, the same principles apply. These growers are using cover crops on large-scale fields, and can use the same method of cover crops. For the most part, the cover crops they’re using on seed corn production areas can also be used on commercial corn and soybean operations,” Moeller said.

The “Row Crop Run” will be featured in Profit Matters from May through October. You can also follow along online at www.iowaagnet.com, www.facebook.com/IowaAgRadio or www.Twitter.com/IowaAgRadio.