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ILF launches cover crop calculator tool

By Staff | Feb 8, 2014

AMES (ILF) – Cover crops are planted in the fall and stay on fields over the winter, covering the ground with foliage and holding soil in place with their roots.

These assets help to slow soil erosion and reduce nitrate leaching, thereby improving water quality.

They also improve soil health and productivity and suppress weeds. Many farmers are seeking management advice about implementing cover crops into their corn-soybean rotations.

To help farmers in their decision-making, Iowa Learning Farms has launched a new tool to help calculate and compare the costs of using cover crops, including seed, application and chemical termination.

Modeled after the popular Ag Decision Maker tools developed by Iowa State University Extension, the calculator can be used to determine the cost of over crop mixes up to six species.

The tool calculates the cost of drilling and aerial application for easy comparison.

It is available as an Excel file on the ILF website. To use the calculator, download and open the Excel file www.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/content/cover-crops-0.

Cover crop acres are increasing as more farmers see their short- and long-term benefits.

In Iowa, winter rye is most commonly planted as a single species and some farmers are using mixes such as rye, oats, tillage radish or turnips.

Some cover crops are being used for grazing livestock or as an extra rotation to produce small grain cover crop seed.

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