A six-state study now suggests that leveraging cover crops and limiting tillage can potentially reduce the number of prevent plant (PPL) acres. In turn, this can lead to fewer subsequent federal crop insurance payments. Crop insurance makes up 37 percent of expenditures in the federal farm bill.
The study was led by Bruce Sherrick of the University of Illinois and Rob Myers, director of the University of Missouri’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture. According to the research, cover crops can reduce the number of PPL acres in wet springs by as much as 24 percent. However, average losses typically vary based on the field. The study utilized data from Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota.
Those who are already planting cover crops are seeing benefits as a result of earlier planting, which reduces yield loss. Cover crops also boost the ability of soil to retain water, which means less runoff during heavy rains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture focuses on offering financial incentives to those who implement these practices, such as planting cover crops. Additionally, the University of Missouri provides its own incentives to state farmers who implement these tactics, including cover crop grazing and climate-smart fieldscapes.
According to study data, cover crops helped save $27 per acre on herbicides where herbicide-resistant weeds were problematic. Based on the study, grazed cover crops can save about $43.23 per acre. Myers concluded that this new data supports ongoing research on how cover crops and limited tillage can help the environment.
The research can be found at www.foodandagpolicy.org/resources/research, which is also where more information on cover crop usage and reduced tillage practices can be located. Agricultural producers can find information on John Deere’s line of farming equipment by contacting their local John Deere dealer.