Tips can help cover crop planters achieve success

     As the number of Iowa farmers using cover crops continues to grow, it’s important to help make sure farmers have a successful experience. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, on April 25, shared a number of spring management tips for farmers using cover crops.

     “We continue to see cover crop acreage expand as farmers see how they can reduce erosion, protect water quality and improve soil health,” Naig said. “Given the later planting date for many last fall and the cold spring weather, green cover has just become noticeable across the state. Management of cover crops over a range of weather conditions is critical to the success of using this important practice.”

     While the late winter is creating challenges this spring, it’s important to allow the cover crop to grow as long as possible to maximize the benefits. This is typically easier for soybeans after winter cover crops because of the later planting date and less potential impact on soybeans.

     For corn following a winter cover crop, it’s important to fully terminate cover crops and provide enough nitrogen at planting. If nitrogen at planting is not possible, then plan to terminate a cover crop 10-14 days ahead of planting.  More experienced users may be more comfortable with closer termination windows if nitrogen is managed correctly.

     This information was put together with the help of the Iowa Cover Crop Working Group, which includes representatives from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa State University, Iowa Learning Farms and USDA Agriculture Research Service.

     More information about incorporating cover crops into your farming operation can be found at or



Subscriber Login