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Cover crops can benefit soil health, fight off weeds, improve the quality of water and more.
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According to a recent press release, The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) and the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) will hold the Iowa Cover Crops Conference on February 17 and 18, 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa.
This event will provide attendees with information about the latest cover crop products and technology through educational sessions and exhibits.
Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, and several farmers will discuss their farm operations and experiences with cover crops. Other individuals studying and using cover crops in seven Midwestern states will share their latest results from controlled and on-farm demonstrations.
The Rise of Cover Crops
The popularity of cover crops has increased as more farmers have discovered that they provide multiple benefits for agriculture and the environment. The number of cover crop acres in Iowa has increased dramatically over the past several years. In 2009 they covered fewer than 10,000 acres and rose to covering about 300,000 acres by 2013.
Studies have shown that cover crops can benefit soil health, fight off weeds, increase forage availability, advance wildlife habitat, and improve the quality of water and farm resiliency.
More than 1,900 farmers responded to a cover crops survey conducted by the USDA, providing information about their uses and popularity. This survey found that farmers who plated corn in a field following a cover crop had 3.1 percent increase in yield compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops. Likewise, soybean yields increased 4.3 percent following cover crops.