Published Nov 7, 2011

Winter cover crops in SW Iowa

By Sarah Carlson


Kelly Tobin hosted 60 farmers, NRCS staff and IDALS staff including Secretary Bill Northey to his farm on August 30 ,2011. Kelly has been participating in a PFI & Iowa Learning Farms on-farm trial using cover crops in between his corn and soybean rotation. For the trial every fall Kelly plants a cover crop of rye following grain harvest and then in the spring kills the rye using herbicides. He then plants corn or soybeans and in the fall weighs the grain from the strips where he had planted cover crop and no cover crop the previous fall to see if the cover crop affects the grain yield. To read more see PFI’s YR 2 report .



Tom Kaspar, researcher from the National Laboratory for Ag and the Environment shared results of cover crop trials he has conducted for more than 10 years near Ames, IA. His research shows that following grain harvest without a cover crop on the ground to take up nitrogen and hold soil farmers can be losing on average 45lbs-N/A. That is a pretty expensive product to waste considering the cost of nitrogen just keeps going up.






Paul Ackley, farmer from SW IA also spoke about his practical experience with cover crops on his farm. He raises cattle and row crops and some pasture near Bedford, IA and uses cover crops to improve his soil structure.






The day ended with a delicious meal grilled by the Taylor County Cattlemen. Hamburgers were grilled from neighboring grazier in Ringgold County, Ebersole Cattle Company and Carney Family Farms.