cover crops

The hills were blackened. What was once a house, now a concrete slab.

Wildfires brought destruction to the lush hillside vineyards, rangelands and forests of Napa County, California, in the fall of 2017. Six months later, Jacob Wright, a junior in agronomy, found himself in the midst of a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) team dedicated to the recovery of the landscape.

“Often people just didn’t know where to start,” says Wright. “We would visit the property and point them in the right direction. We worked together with multiple agencies at both the state and federal level.”

Mr. Edward S Dearden
Graduate Assistant
Dr. Prashant Jha
Dr. Md Rasel Parvej
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Corn management following cereal rye cover crop with strip tillage and starter N fertilization (2018-2020)

Issue: Cover crops are a conservation practice that can have tremendous benefits for improving soil health and reducing nutrient losses. There is limited research available on management practices that provide farmers information to facilitate cover crop adoption and minimize potential yield limiting factors.

Sarah Carlson (MS sustainable ag and crop production and physiology) was recognized as a leader in Iowa agriculture back in March. Sarah is the strategic initiatives director for Practical Farmers and was one of four recipients of the 2018 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Awards.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig presented Sarah with the Leadership in Conservation Award during an awards ceremony and dinner on March 6, with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in attendance. The award winners were recognized for their leadership, innovation and commitment to agriculture in Iowa.

Seth Watkins is a Taylor County Iowa farmer taking a new approach. As a land owner involved in the Science-based Trial of Rowcrop Integrated Prairie Strips (STRIPS) since 2012, Seth has implemented a number of conservation practices: rotational grazing, restricted wildlife areas, riparian buffers, ponds, shallow water habitats, integrated pest management, prescribed burning, windbreak restoration, no-till, cover crops, tile, terraces, inter-seeded legumes, prairie restoration (CRP) and late season calving. 

The STRIPS team recently won an Iowa State University College of Agriculture and LIfe Sciences Team Award.

Cover Crops and Nitrogen Retention

Cover crops are an integral component of cropping systems because they grow in the fall and early spring - that is, times when the soil would not have a growing corn or soybean crop. At present, cover crops are grown to benefit soil quality and reduce nitrate loss. In the future, ongoing research at ISU promises to identify additional benefits such as weed suppression. Cover crop acres are growing exponentially.

Gunnar B Dinkla
Graduate Assistant-Research
Fernando_E_Miguez
Dr. Fernando E Miguez
Associate Professor
Dr. Mark A Licht
Assistant Professor
Extension Cropping Systems Specialist

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