Farmers Continue to Expand Cover Crops

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Farmers continue to plant more cover crops. Reuters says those include everything from grasses like rye and oats to legumes and radishes. Some of them get converted to biofuels or fed to cattle, but most aren’t harvested because they’re more valuable when they break down in the soil. Rob Myers of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture estimates cover crops grew to 22 million acres between 2017 and 2021. That’s a 43 percent increase from the 15.4 million acres that farmers planted in 2017. “There are so many things pushing cover crops forward,” Myers says. “Carbon payments are the newest thing as we see increasing farmer interest in maintaining soil health.” He estimates that farmers will plant between 40 and 50 million acres every year by the end of the decade. Greater cover crop demand could be ahead as companies launch carbon farming programs that pay growers to capture carbon through cover crops and reduced soil tillage.

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