Farmers who want to learn more about cover crops can do so at an upcoming field day November 17th. Iowa Learning Farms will host a cover crop field day Tuesday, November 17, from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The cover crop field day will take place at the Sam and Julie Spellman farm in rural Woodward.
Iowa Learning Farms Events Coordinator Liz Juchems says cover crops are a useful tool in the Iowa nutrient reduction strategy.
“A large variety of practices are listed in there but one of the benefits of cover crops is that it helps address nitrogen loss and phosphorus so by getting a growing plant out there in those brown months between harvest in the fall and planting in the spring we can help capture some nutrients through plant growth through as well as hold down to the soil to reduce phosphorus loss through erosion,” Juchems said.
Juchems said someone who may not be convinced about cover crops should start off with a small area.
“Maybe give oats a try. They’ll spring up pretty quickly in the fall. They also winter kill so you do not have to worry about termination in the spring so it is not an added practice or something you have to worry about in the spring. Give a chance and see how it might fit in your operation in the fall. Talk to your neighbors who you see are doing it. My dad is a farmer up in northeastern Iowa and he convinced half a dozen of his neighbors to try cover crops so use those resources or farmers around you,” Juchems said.
Dallas County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Sam Spellman is incorporating cover crops and no-till on his highly erodible acres. Sam and his wife farm with their son Aaron and his wife Katie. For the last four years, they have been using cereal rye and mixtures of cover crops including cereal rye or oats with radish and red clover to help protect the soil from erosion.