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Seed corn growers share experience with cover crops

The planting season presented various challenges, with weather being the most common.

While not ideal, the frequent rain showers provided me an opportunity to meet with seed corn growers across the state, all of which implement cover crops following seed corn harvest.

A few growers offer words of encouragement for those considering the sustainable practice.

AUDIO: Profit Matters 7-4-19

Sam Ose, of Hamilton County, saw the benefits of cover crops. Erosion control and weed suppression helped motivate him to adopt the relatively new practice. Ose believes other farm operators could benefit from erosion control, even if only on a couple of acres.

“Erosion control is always a problem,” Ose said. “Every farmer is smart enough to realize that if all your good dirt washes away, then you don’t have good dirt and it’s harder to farm. What you do about it is a bigger question. I would encourage farmers who have erosion control issues to experiment with small-scale cover crops.”

Jim Rebhuhn, of Linn County, seconds Ose’s statment in stating, “start small.”

“The important thing is to give it a try, probably on your more erosive land. It doesn’t have to be a scenario where you plant your entire farm to cover crops,” Rebhuhn said. “Make sure you can handle getting spraying done on a timely basis. It needs to be terminated when it’s about six inches tall. Again, start small. Make sure you’re comfortable. I think that’ll add to the overall success.”

A common misconception surrounding cover crops is the associated cost. Mark Kenney, of Story County, says cover cropping is like everything else, “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make it work.”

“When I go to farmer meetings, I see plenty of $75,000 pickups in the parking lot. If you have $75,000 in your pickup budget, you can find $5,000 for the cover crop budget. In the end, this is something that improves the soil. It helps improve statewide water quality. We have a duty, being the closest to groundwater supplies,” Kenney said.

The farmers mentioned above are participating in the Row Crop Run, sponsored by the Iowa Seed Association. Tune into Profit Matters for additional field updates.

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