Cornell University, with support from Sustainable, Agriculture, Research, and Education (SARE), is conducting a survey for all fruit, vegetable, field crop, grain, and mixed crop-livestock producers in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Vermont to identify the biggest challenges that farmers face, as well as the best solutions in regards to cover crop incentive programs. You do not need to have experience with cover crops to participate.
Our goal is to understand what the most important factors are for farm owners and managers when deciding whether or not to use incentive programs. Notably, the survey also provides an opportunity to share your experience managing issues related to cover crops and incentive program requirements.
Key findings from the survey will be published and communicated to grower organizations and other farmer advocates so that recommendations, actions, and outcomes reflect what you identify as being most helpful for your operation. Whether your farm is small or large, organic or conventional – your responses to this survey can be a powerful tool for change.
Do we like preaching to the choir? Sure do! Enter, this week’s installment from Kiss the Ground on using cover cropping for carbon sequestration. Now, can I get an Amen?!
This video features Jeff Borum, Soil Health Coordinator East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District , who mentions that some of the oldest records of cover cropping come from Virgil. Our interest piqued, we did a little digging to confirm this fact and unearthed some trivia about the history of cover cropping from this UC Davis article, but we know there’s more out there. Can anyone point us in the right direction??
I can almost hear organic farmers across the country rolling their eyes, cover cropping: this is news? And, I know, I know, you’ve been doing this for years— but, yes, actually there’s some real good news here: New York Times writer Stephanie Strom’s report, “Cover Cropping: A Farming Revolution with Deep Roots in the Past,” indicates that the tide of mainstream agriculture may be moving towards more sustainable practices.
Case-in-point #1: Some large-scale midwestern grain growers are actively working cover crops into their rotation.
Case-in-point #2: In Maryland, “the state reimburses farmers for the cost of cover crop seed and has been informing them about the impact that fertilizer runoff has on Chesapeake Bay.”
Case-in-point #3: Even Monsanto is investigating cover crops. “Monsanto, together with the Walton Family Foundation, recently put up the money to support the Soil Health Partnership, a five-year project of the National Corn Growers Association to identify, test and measure the impact of cover cropping and other practices to improve soil health.”
We were skeptical of a few of the articles claims– namely that “new” no-till technology contributes to erosion and degrade microbiology in the soil– but we’re still ready to count this article as a victory for all the extension agents and small-scale farmers who have been championing this technology from the beginning.
“We’ve never seen anything taken up as rapidly as using cover crops,” said Barry Fisher, a soil health specialist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the Agriculture Department.