Three Iowa ag partners are leading a statewide effort to increase the adoption of cover crops, an erosion-prevention and water quality practice, as part of a national program called Farmers for Soil Health.

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), and the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) are collaborating to offer up to $50/acre split into payments over three years to farmers who enroll in the program and plant cover crops. The promotion in Iowa is possible through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Fund.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to share the benefits of cover crops with more Iowa farmers. We have a great team of Conservation Agronomists who are going to be meeting with farmers one-on-one to help them not only plant cover crops – but be successful at it,” said Roger Wolf, Director of Conservation for the Iowa Soybean Association, which is leading technical assistance.

In 2022, Iowa farmers planted nearly 3.8 million acres of cover crops, more than double the amount in 2017. The nationwide goal for this project is 30 million acres of cover crops by 2030.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to show the other 20 states in the initiative that Iowa is a leader in on-farm conservation. We’re making tremendous progress in water quality practices like cover crops. At the same time, we have a long way to go; working together, we can do it,” said Sean McMahon, Executive Director of IAWA, a nonprofit aimed at improving water quality through farmer-led efforts.

Cover crops can also improve soil structure, build organic matter, and reduce costs in other areas of a farming operation.

“We know farmers take their jobs as stewards of the land seriously. They also don’t want to lose valuable nutrients from the ground. We’re confident that more information about cover crop management is going to lead more farmers to plant them because the benefits to soil health are so impressive,” said Greg Wandrey, Director of Sustainability at Iowa Corn.

Cover crops have immense value long term, but some farmers worry about yield drags in the first year. Cost share offered by this project will help reduce any initial risk.

Key cost share details:

  • Cost share is open for cover crop acres seeded this fall/winter. Sign-up is open through Feb. 29, 2024.
  • Payment for new cover crop acres is up to $50 split over three years. There is a $2/acre incentive for continued cover crop acres.
  • Cost share can stack with most programs except for USDA programs. ISA Conservation Agronomists can help you figure out how to maximize available incentives.

Click here for more Industry News.