Cover Crops

Practical Farmers provides farmers and agency personnel with information, anecdotes and research about adding cover crops to current conventional, organic or other farming systems.

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 1,282,608 acres of cover crops in 2022 in Iowa. Practical Farmers of Iowa has played a central role in bringing about this transformative change to the landscape.

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PFI2020 DFN HorizontalLogoCover Crop Cost-Share

Practical Farmers offers cost-share and technical assistance for those who are seeding fall cover crops.

Participants must farm in eligible counties in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska or South Dakota.

Payment rates are $10 or $15 per acre on an unlimited number of acres. There are no requirements on the species or seeding method used.

Learn More About Cover Crop Cost-Share Opportunities


On this page:


Cover Crop Resources

More Cover Crop Resources


“Practical Cover Croppers” Video Series

Practical Cover Croppers aims to offer a digestible snapshot of PFI members’ cover cropping practices and insights across a range of farm enterprises, from row crops and livestock to horticulture.

Watch the series on YouTube


Other Resources


Tools

Midwest Grazing Exchange

Expanding integrated crop-livestock systems can offer a range of benefits for farmers, the environment and rural communities. But accessing land to graze, or finding livestock farmers to partner with, can be a barrier.

The Midwest Grazing Exchange is a free matchmaking service that aims to connect graziers seeking land to graze with landowners in six Midwestern states. It was created to help farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin find livestock or land to graze.

Start your grazing connection

Other Tools

IOWA LEARNING FARMS CALCULATORS

Cover Crop Economics (ISU)

MIDWEST COVER CROPS COUNCIL- COVER CROP DECISION TOOL

Green Cover Seeds Smartmix Calculator


Partners

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. 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. Other key partners include:


Contact Information

For more information about on-farm research or cover crops programming: contact Stefan Gailans at stefan.gailans(at)practicalfarmers(dot)org or Sarah Carlson at sarah.carlson(at)practicalfarmers(dot)org.