By John Dobberstein, Senior Editor

The NRCS has decided not to update its conservation practice standard for cover crops, which means restrictions to harvesting covers will not be added. 

NRCS originally proposed restricting mechanical harvest of cover crops, “but after reviewing input from agricultural producers and groups, NRCS recognizes this could present challenges for producers who use this important conservation practice,” the agency said this week. 

The proposed restrictions drew criticism from educators, researchers, commodity groups, farmers and even some federal lawmakers. 

Among the critics was the American Soybean Assn., which commented that restricting mechanical harvesting would slow cover crop adoption, cause grower confusion over the connection between cover crops and crop insurance, increase costs for growers and lead to confusion over what is considered a cover crop. 

“ASA is pleased NRCS decided to axe the proposed change,” the organization said.

Data from the 2nd annual Cover Crop Benchmark Study — compiled and organized by Cover Crop Strategiesshowed the proposed rule change could have a very negative affect on farmers and ranchers.

The latest version of the conservation practice standard can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide under Section IV, Conservation Practices and Supporting Documents, by State.