Research shows cover crops benefit wildlife, farmers alike

For Release: June 5, 2015

NWF sponsors agriculture research demonstrating wide range of benefits

Washington, DC (June 5, 2015) – Sustainable agriculture practices have many benefits such as reducing erosion and protecting water quality. But they also support a stronger economy and healthier ecosystems. Since 2013, NWF has been supporting research that further demonstrates the wide range of benefits from sustainable agriculture, particularly cover crops.

NWF awarded grants to researchers from Iowa State University and Western Illinois University to assess and interpret the economic impacts of using cover crops such as reduced input costs at the farmer level to job creation at the economy-wide level. Researchers from University of Missouri and St. Joseph’s College explored the wildlife habitat values of cover crops such as nesting numbers and success, incidence of trap habitat, forage ability and pollinator support.

“We know about the water quality benefits of cover crops, reducing field nutrient runoff by up to 90 percent,” said Ryan Stockwell, Senior Agriculture Program Manager for NWF. “However, one area lacking a solid body of knowledge is the upside for wildlife like the nesting and foraging benefits of cover crops. We also have a lot to learn about the positive economic domino effects that happen when more farmers use cover crops.”

Researchers will present their results in two webinars, co-hosted by NWF and Practical Farmers of Iowa:

June 22, 2015 | 11:00am – 12:30pm central

Cover Crops and Wildlife Habitat

1. Effect of Diverse Cover Crops on Insects and Wildlife, Ray Wright, University of Missouri

2. Impact of Cover Crops on Bird, Insect and Amphibian Diversity, Robert Brodman, St. Joseph’s College and Daniel Perkins, Jasper County Soil and Water Conservation District

July 20, 2015 | 11:00am – 12:30pm central

The Economics of Cover Crops

1. Quantifying nitrogen scavenging, Dr. Ajay Nair, Iowa State University

2. Economic impact of cover crop seed sales, Fred Iutzi, Western Illinois University

3. Using simple field tests for soil quality to promote cover crops and management practices, Chad Watts, CTIC

Both webinars are free and open to the public. To join the webinars, visit practicalfarmers.org/farminars and click the “Join In” button, then select “Enter as a Guest.”

For more National Wildlife Federation news visit www.nwf.org/news

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

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