A new report from the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural and Rural Development summarizes five years of data on Iowa farmers’ use of cover crops.
The survey was administered to farmers who visited local conservation field offices and received technical assistance related to cover crops. The more than 3,000 responses shed light on Iowa farmers’ rationale and motivations to use cover crops, the timing of planting and termination, the types and extent of varieties used, and farmers’ preferred information sources. The most prevalent types of operations using cover crops were farms producing row crops and cattle, and farms producing row crops but no livestock.
Most respondents seeded cover crops on erodible land, and only on a portion of their fields. The stated motivations to use cover crops reported by at least two-thirds of the respondents include preventing soil erosion, building soil organic matter, improving soil health, and improving/protecting water quality.