Should crop insurance be encouraging growers to utilize cover crops? A white paper by the AGree Economic & Environmental Risk Coalition, a group that advocates for federal policies to drive the adoption of conservation practices, found that cover crops can reduce yield risk, and as a result, file fewer crop insurance claims.
This is in addition to numerous environmental benefits, including improving water quality and infiltration rates, sequestering carbon, enhancing wildlife habitat, and so much more.
Another one of those benefits provided by covers is providing diversity. An Italian study of 11,000 farms found that crop biodiversity and soil fertility can positively influence both revenues and resiliency of farm systems over time. The study determined that soil health and crop biodiversity were leading factors in determining the economic and agricultural productivity of the farm, regardless of the farm’s location.
Cover crops are an easy way to implement biodiversity, and adding livestock to graze — whether owned by your farming operation or leasing out the ground for grazing — are a way to make a farm’s ecosystem even more diverse.
Cover crops also provide a way for farmers to exercise their creativity and problem-solving savvy — a time-honored skill set for farmers around the world. Imagine if farmers were enabled to develop individual, field-specific solutions to the climate crisis, rather than adopting an approach coerced upon them by regulations or suppliers. This approach would not only win buy-in from farmers, but it would also be the fastest and most effective way to develop solutions to the climate crisis.