Cover crops are an increasing part of strip-tillers’ soil health building strategies. The 6th annual Strip-Till Farmer Benchmark Study revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents said cover crops are a part of their system. 

Our editors dug even deeper into the cover cropping habits of strip-tillers, evaluating seeding methods, termination practices, variety selection and much more in the first Cover Crop Strategies Benchmark Study. Nearly 1,500 respondents identifying themselves as farmers or ranchers participated in the study, including more than 200 strip-tillers. 

After crunching the numbers and analyzing the results, we’ve compiled 20 statistical takeaways from the strip-till specific data. Visit in the coming months for more coverage of the benchmark study results. 

  1. 77.8% Strip-tillers who have used cover crops 10 years or less, including 44.9% who have for 5 years or less.
  2. 91% Seeded cover crops in 2019.
  3. 300 Some 40.6% strip-tillers seeded less than 300 acres of cover crops in 2019, while only about 15% seeded 1,000 acres or more.
  4. 72.6% Strip-tillers who seeded cereal rye, by far the most popular cover crop, followed by radish (55.3%)
  5. 61.9% Seeded a single species of cover crop in some fields in 2019, with cereal rye again the most popular choice (63%).
  6. 75.7% Seeded a multi-species cover crop mix in 2019, consisting of at least 2 varieties.
  7. 4-9 Most popular range of species seeded by strip-tillers in 2019 was between 4 and 9 in any one mix.
  8. 85.6% Seeded cover crops in fall or winter, easily the most preferred window.
  9. 61% Drilled in their cover crops in 2019, with 36.9% broadcasting covers.
  10. 53.7% Strip-tillers who planted a cash crop into living covers – planting green – in 2019.
  11. 58.8% Say their maximum benefit with cover crops is erosion prevention, followed by better soil biological activity (45.7%).
  12. 34.4% Interseeded cover crops in 2019, with 63.1% interseeding less than 300 acres.
  13. V5 The most popular timing to interseed covers into corn 8-12 inches tall, with 18.4% preferring this window. Of the respondents, 34.8% preferred to interseed covers into soybeans at R8.
  14. 84% Herbicides were the most popular termination method for cover crops in 2019 by strip-tillers. 94.1% of strip-tillers who applied an herbicide for cover crop termination used glyphosate.
  15. 59.9% Terminating cover crops prior to planting corn was the most common timing among strip-tillers in 2019. Ahead of soybeans, the most popular timing was post-planting (48.6%). 
  16.  23.8% Grazed cover crops or rented land for cover crop grazing in 2019 with 94.1% grazing beef cows.
  17. $10.00-$29.99 Some 80.6% of strip-tillers spent in this range, per acre, for their cover crop seeding program in 2019.
  18. $10.00-$14.99 The most popular estimated seeding or application cost per acre for cover crops in 2019, with 40.9% spending this amount on their operation. 
  19. $4.99 Some 45.5% estimated per-acre savings of up to this amount in fertilizer application costs on cash crops due to cover crops in 2019.
  20. 0-19 Pounds-per-acre range of nitrogen credit reported by 55.7% of strip-tillers in 2019, attributed to their cover crop program.