The number of Iowa cover crop acres grew by approximately 32 percent to 623,700 acres in 2016, despite low commodity prices and tight margins, according to a new report from Iowa Learning Farms.
Growth in cover crop acres came from both first-time and experienced users. The majority of respondents in the Iowa Learning Farms Field Day Evaluation Report (69 percent) started seeding cover crops at least three years ago, have an average of five years of experience with cover crops and have steadily increased cover crop acreage.
As experience with cover crops increased, concerns about yield impacts and implementation knowledge have decreased, the new report showed. Most farmers reported a little-to-no negative effect on corn and soybean yields after cover crops and some said the practice actually increased soybean yields in seven site-years and corn yield in two site-years.
Cost was identified as the biggest barrier to cover crop adoption. Cost share was used to plant 82 percent of the acres planted to cover crops.
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