006 – Cover Crops

006 – Cover Crops

“The Farmer & The City Girl Podcast Episode 006 – Cover Crops”




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In this episode Carrie wants to know what cover crops are, what their actual purpose is and why they help regular harvested crops. Rob tries to keep it non-political, but eventually they discuss the pro vs anti cover crop guys.

Then they discuss the Milwaukee Crypto Outbreak and why Milwaukeeans would be happy if farmers got a stipend to plant cover crops to keep pollutants out of the water. And how the consumer would even make the correlation between cover crops that were involved and the food they purchase.

FEEDBACK REQUESTED: Do you plant cover crops? If so what kind and what state are you from?

Comment below – let us know!

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14 Comments

  1. Rob, how do you feel about NRCS pushing covers incessantly? Or doesn’t that happen in your state? Soil health topics are good, but it’s not a one size fits all solution. I haven’t seen good stats on the efficacy of covers yet. I did see a good study here: http://csanr.wsu.edu/cover-crop-monoculture-not-mixture/… but that’s about it.

    Carrie, no one has quantified what cover crops can or have done. Lots of studies that sorta tell us what cover crops can do. I hear what Rob is saying about not using cover crops because it doesn’t work for him. The farmers I work with have similar thoughts. It just doesn’t work for them.

    Aganese! Love it! You should start a page about Farmer terms you want explained! 😀

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Yes the NRCS seems to be pushing them hard here. Which has definitely increased the amount of guys doing it

  3. Nice job with podcast guys this idea is pretty cool…..cover crops ya,well I’m from Ontario and it’s all the talk here too. I think from hearing Sharkey that he’s had about the same success I’ve had with them. I think they have their place and can be beneficial. I have found crops planted following a cover crop do better then crops that are In a normal rotation tho. The whole plant green movement is absolutely absurd to me tho . It won’t work in our colder climate. Where I typically use cover crops is following my wheat crop which is harvested in July and then grow a cover crop on those acres thru the fall and they die off in the winter,but only on my wheat acres which is a small portion of my total acreage. Theirs my 2 cents.

  4. I agree with Rob on most of this topic. In many cases I have been around cover crop users they are salesman or connected to a salesman in some way shape or form. I can definitely see the benefit of it it there was a financial benefit to it in my operation but all the extra work and expense doesn’t pencil out to me. Some dairies around here have used them to chop the rye off and plant a early number corn for silage but that seems to be more for a manure management plan than actually a conservation move. On Carries side tho I will say I see a push in the future to do more of it. In Iowa we have a case where the Des Moines Water Works is suing the watersheds above them to offset costs because of the nitrate levels they have to control in the water. It’s a touchy topic because farmers are already sick of the over regulation we already see and once it starts it generally only gets worse. I’m not saying I don’t think water quality isn’t an important issue but most farmers are already feeling tight margins and the potential for being told what to do with our land in regards to manure management, nitrogen application and cover crops is getting push back because we end up incurring the cost with no gain or a loss. Keep up the good work on the discussion and the topics going forward.

  5. We use cover crops on some of the ground we farm. In one case we have a landlord that requires we plant a cover crop but they also modify the cash rent because of the additional expense. We believe there are positive benefits to using cover crops but also understand that there are management considerations and challenges when using them.

    The biggest problem we have with the current push to use Cover Crops are the Evangelicals that have recently converted to using cover crops and only sing their praises without having enough experience to give a real view of their impact on their farm.

  6. Hi Kevin, thanks for the comment.
    For me you actually bring up a few questions for me if you don’t mind explaining!
    1. “I have found crops planted following a cover crop do better then crops that are In a normal rotation tho” Is that because the cover crop you chose to plant was complimentary? Did you choose it because it put certain nutrients into the ground that would benefit the crop you were planting after it?

    2. “plant green movement” I google and glanced and oh boy – that’s a topic for an episode!!

  7. Thank you for the comment!!
    I’d be interested to know how cover crops manage manure. Is it because they plan them and then spread the manure in that field and the rain can’t wash it away as easily as if it had been spread in a field?

    I can totally see your point about the cost effectiveness of it. That was totally my thinking. It’s not like money grows on trees so any waste, especially on the grand level a farmer would seems silly to me.

  8. Jim, I it sounds like they are the “Essential Oils” salesmen of the farming community.

    And it’s cool your landlord modifies the cash rent.

    May I ask what type of cover crop your landlord requires and why they feel it’s necessary or what benefit they feel it has?

  9. What they generally do is chop what ever grows for feed, then haul manure right away disk that under and plant corn or beans. It’s mainly used as a way to get manure hauled a little later in the season so lagoons won’t get as full or possibly overrun. It’s mainly the dairies or confinement barns that do it.

  10. It is funny that trends and fads happen in ag just like anything else. We have done rye and wheat cover crops in our cotton stalks for 40 years. The reason we do it is to keep the sand from blowing in the March wind. The I-staters made our local rye seedsman a vast fortune in the last several years since discovering ‘rye’ as a cover crop.

    Enjoy the show. Wish there was a way I could yell the correct answers at you while you are recording….

  11. The type of cover crop is up to us, they merely want living plants on the soil all year long. They want the ground covered to prevent or minimize erosion.

  12. I’d vouch for that too. There’s a huge push for manure spreading in the spring and to get the manure on and incorporated (tilled in) before planting. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate and you need to get the corn in ASAP. With the rye or oats being harvested as a green chop, meaning it’s not even close to mature, in mid to late June, depending where you are, this just gives the farm a little leeway in getting manure onto the ground.

    A few problems with this “double cropping” is that you may not get to the oats or triticale or rye at the right time for a good quality dairy forage. Which means you either a.) kill it and plow it under or b.) let it go to full maturity and harvest the small grain or in most cases on dairies is just cut the field and don’t even harvest the grain. The straw is more valuable than the grain for most dairy farms.

  13. Agreed on forage quality it’s a matter of preference to each dairy. Some are ok with it as less than ideal since mostly the ones around here basically use it for “filler”.

  14. If you could correct me… we’d never get through a show lol

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