Growers tend to “buy local” more than the average consumer, in my experience. This is not a bad thing. However, patronizing the local ag retailer can play a role in what services a grower can utilize, including cover crops.

The Partnership for Ag Resource Management released the results of a study done in 2019 that assessed the role of 126 ag retailers in selling and advising growers on cover crops in 11 states across the Midwest and East. Participating ag retailers cover 8.7 million acres of crop ground.

The survey results shared some interesting results:

  • Only a small portion of ag retailers do not offer services related to cover crops.
  • Some 65% of grower customers achieved economic gains from utilizing cover crops.
  • Communicating the benefits of cover crops to growers is a challenge for 28% of ag retailers. This presents a unique opportunity for Extension and Soil and Water Conservation District agents and other non-profit organizations to train ag retail employees on how to effectively share the benefits of cover crops with their customers.
  • Cover crop services increased substantially in 2016 and have remained high ever since, although cover crops are still the least utilized service provided by ag retailers. Cover crop adoption did not fall even in 2019, the wettest year on record, with an additional 502,480 acres planted to covers. This means that growers took advantage of cover crops as an option for prevent-plant scenarios, which were even more prevalent during the wet 2019 growing season.
  • Ag retailers saw a savings of $4 million on acres using cover crops if the grower also used 28% UAN.
  • Broadcasted cover crop seeding has the highest sales amongst ag retailers with 88% customer use, followed by aerial application at 46%.
  • Most retail branches sell cover crop seed and just over half offer cover crop planning services.
  • Both annual ryegrass and cereal rye had the highest adoption rate at 29%, with radish placing second at 16% and oats coming in at 15%.
  • Ag retailer participants ranked costs as the biggest barrier for customers to adopt cover crops, followed by local climate.

            Click here to read the full report.