With harvest season upon us, that means it’s also time for another major undertaking — planting covers after harvest. A recent cover crop survey by the Soil Health Partnership found that more than half of farmers planted cover crops between the middle of September and the beginning of November. The Soil Health Partnership cover crop survey took data from more than 80 farmers from across 11 states. 

The Soil Health Partnership survey found that a quarter of their respondents used interseeding to plant cover crops, with 47% of growers planting only one species of covers.

The data set found that 30% of growers used the 2-3 way cover crop mix, while only 16% of growers use more complex mixes with more than 4 cover crop species. Some 80% of the Soil Health Partnership survey participants planted cereal rye.

When covers were planted depended on region, cash crop rotation, and which cover crop species was being planted. A whopping 74% of growers indicated that they planted covers after harvest, while the remaining 25% interseeded or overseeded.

Growers reported that the median cost of cover crop seed was $15 per acre. Costs for applying the cover crop seed was $12 per acre. These numbers varied according to the cover crop mix and seeding method used. Costs per acre for a single species mix were $14, $16.66 for a 2-3 way mix, and $22.50 for a cover crop mix with more than 3 species. Broadcasting was the cheapest method for seeding covers, at $10 per acre, followed by aerial seeding at $13.88 per acre, and drilling, at $14.50 per acre.

A third of growers contracted with someone outside their operation to plant covers.