Farmers may receive funds to establish a fall cover crop, according to Jim Lahn, District Conservationist at the Le Mars Field Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). State of Iowa funds are available as an incentive for establishing a cover crop this fall at the rate of $15 per acre, up to a maximum of 80 acres per producer.
Cover crops are especially necessary on Highly Erodible Fields (HEL) fields on which corn was cut for silage this year. Many HEL crop fields with steep slopes have USDA Conservation Compliance Plans which require no-till farming to be practiced. If corn silage was cut on these fields, a fall cover crop needs to be seeded by no-till drilling. This cover crop will help provide adequate cover on the soil during the critical spring erosion period and can be beneficial for producers who desire to retain eligibility for UDSA program benefits.
The cover crop needs to be planted by Nov. 1 and needs to be maintained until April 1. Grazing of the cover crop is allowed during the winter, provided a minimum height of four inches is maintained. Either winter wheat or winter cereal rye are common choices for a fall cover crop, drilled at a rate of 1 – 2 bushels/acre. NRCS staff can discuss other choices for fall cover crop species.
Farmers in Plymouth County who desire to sign-up for a fall cover crop incentive payment should contact: Le Mars NRCS Office, 1100A 12th Street SW, Le Mars; Phone: 712-546-8858 Ext. 3.
Farmers are strongly encouraged to contact their local NRCS office soon regarding changes in their farming operation due to the 2012 drought. Some decisions made by farmers can impact their conservation practices which protect the soil and which enable them to retain eligibility for UDSA program benefits. The establishment of a fall cover crop can protect the soil when normal rainfall returns and can aid in maintaining USDA program benefits.