Cover crops are plants such as small grains, legumes, brassicas and others that are planted between cash crop seasons to keep a living cover on the landscape. Numerous studies have shown these plants can help protect soil and water quality, reduce chemical input costs, improve farm resiliency, boost yields, increase forage availability and improve wildlife habitat. In Iowa, the number of cover crop acres has increased dramatically over the past several years — from fewer than 10,000 acres in 2009 to about 600,000 acres in 2016. Practical Farmers of Iowa has played a central role in bringing about this transformative change to the landscape.
A Decade of Cover Crop Research – Joel Gruver – PDF
Intro to Cover Crops for Vegetables – Mark Quee – PDF
Growing Your Own Cover Crop Seed – Chris Gaesser & Dick Sloan – PDF
Reducing Herbicide with Cover Crops – Doug Adams & Wade Dooley – PDF
Roller-Crimping Cover Crops – Levi Lyle & Billy Sammons – PDF
Healthy Plants Grow in Healthy Soils – Jill Clapperton
Healthy Plants Grow in Healthy Soils Q & A – Jill Clapperton
Fear of Change in Cover Crop Adoption – Blake Vince
Global Overview of Farmland Conservation – Blake Vince
Cover Crops or Forage Crops? – Joe Sellers – PDF
Cover Crops, Weeds and Herbicides—Bob Hartzler
Nutrient Reduction Strategies – Tim Smith
With cover crops promising such tangible benefits for farmers and the environment, Practical Farmers is working to increase cover crop use in Iowa and the Midwest. Iowa Learning Farms has been a key partner in these efforts, as well as the Natural Resources Conversation Service, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Risk Management Agency. In addition several private companies including seed-houses, aerial applicators and cooperatives have also worked with Practical Farmers to decrease barriers for farmers wanting to add cover crops.