Cover Crop Acreage Increases in Iowa

A news release last week from Iowa State University Extension stated that, “According to the newly released Iowa Learning Farms 2016 Field Day Evaluation Report, the number of Iowa cover crop acres grew by approximately 32 percent to 623,700 acres. While the positive growth with shrinking profit margins is encouraging, the rate of growth is 3 percent slower than the growth measured the year before, and still well below the goal of 12.5 million acres called for in Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

The release explained that, “Growth in cover crop acres came from both first time and experienced users. The majority of respondents (69 percent) started seeding cover crops at least three years ago and have an average of five years of experience with cover crops. Examining the percentage of their row crop acres seeded to cover crops, there was a steady increase corresponding to years of cover crop experience.

As experience with cover crops increased, concerns about yield impacts and implementation knowledge decreased. This is consistent with findings from the longest running on-farm cover crop research and demonstration project in the state of Iowa. After eight years, a properly managed cereal rye cover crop had little-to-no negative effect on corn and soybean yield and actually increased soybean yield in seven site-years and corn yield in two site-years.

Cost was identified as the biggest barrier to cover crop adoption for the third straight year.”

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